The Confucian Model of Higher Education in East Asia and Singapore

  • Simon MarginsonEmail author
Part of the Higher Education Dynamics book series (HEDY, volume 36)


This chapter focuses on higher education in systems influenced by Confucian educational traditions: China, Hong Kong China, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan and Korea. Though there are many differences between these countries there is convergence in system design in higher education. Apart from Vietnam, the modern Confucian systems exhibited a marked dynamism in development that is still playing out everywhere except Japan. They constitute a distinctive model on the world scale, more effective in some respects than systems in North America, the English-speaking world and Europe. The Confucian Model rests on four interdependent elements: (1) strong nation-state shaping of structures, funding and priorities; (2) a tendency to universal tertiary participation, partly financed by growing levels of household funding of tuition, sustained by a private duty to invest in education grounded in Confucian values; (3) “one chance” national examinations that mediate social competition and university hierarchy and focus family commitments to education; (4) accelerated public investment in research and ‘world-class’ universities. The Model has downsides in that it tends to foster social inequities and state interference in executive autonomy and academic creativity. But together with economic growth amid low tax regimes, the Confucian Model enables these systems to move forward rapidly and simultaneously on all of mass tertiary participation, university quality, research quantity and quality, and the creation of ‘world-class’ universities.


High Education System Private Tutoring Confucian Tradition Selective Institution Confucian Education 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE)University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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