Across Asia, many countries are investing increasing amounts of ressources into improving the quality of their higher education offer and internationalising their study and academic bodies. Some countries have even set ambitious targets for public spending and attracting numbers of foreign students. The following outlines some of the recent developments across Asia:


As an attractive regional destination for Asian students, Japan has set a recent target to dratsticaly increase their foreign student numbers and work toward the creation of a common credit recognition schemes for student mobility in Asia, similar to ECTS and Erasmus in Europe.

The Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), who provide Scholarship and Loan Progammes for Japanese students, services for international students, and support programmes, is developing many programmes to help promote student exchange. JASSO also partcipates in study abroad fairs and has offices in Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, and Indonesia. These branch offices serve as education information centers providing consulting services on study in Japan; higher educational institutes, Japanese-language institutes, and scholarships. JASSO has also designated 5 Japan Alumni association offices housed in unversity libraries across Asia that play a role in disseminating information and promoting Japanese education.


China, which has recently prioritised education investment and reform, is also pushing itself up the ladder in international education attractiveness. China intends to develop a world-class higher education systels and attract a half a million foreign students by 2020. A total of 162,695 exchange students from 184 countries and regions studied in China in 2006, an increase of 15.3 percent from 2005 and the largest number ever recorded. Statistics released by the Ministry of Education in May 2007 show that overseas students studied at 519 universities and colleges in 31 Chinese provinces and regions. Government scholarships were awarded to 8,484 students, up 14.9 percent over the previous year.

China's steady economic rise paralleled with the increasing demand for Chinese language competency has rendered China an attractive destination for student from Asia and beyond. In addition, over 35 Chinese universities now offer courses in English. Furthermore, China has become a target destination for transnational education, as many institutions have invested in partnership agreements and off-shore campuses. The Observatory of Borderless Higher Education (OBHE) comments, ‘the central Government's policies to attract high quality education resources to China, the local governments' motivation to promote economic development and increase HE competitiveness, and the various domestic HE institutions' desire to improve competitive edge, have all played important roles in the establishment and evolution of Sino-foreign joint education ventures in China.

Within the Chinese Ministry of Education, the Department of International Cooperation and Exchange is charged with formulating guidelines and policies on Chinese students studying abroad and foreign students studying in China. Since 1997, the Chinese Scholarships Council (CSC) has been entrusted by the Ministry of Education with the enrollment and administration of international students in China sponsored by Chinese Government Scholarships. The number of excellency scholarships for international students has exploded in recent years. In 2007 the China Scholarship Council awarded 10,000 full scholarships - at a cost of 360 million yuan ($52-million) - to international students. By 2010 the council aims to double the number of awards.

Two-fifths of the 2007 grants went to students in Asia. In a separate scholarship program that reflects its global political strategy, China is using its strengths in science and technology to appeal to students in the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia, forming partnerships with governments in those regions to sponsor students in medicine, engineering, and agriculture.


As a rising study destination, Singapore hosted over 80,000 international students in 2006, an 11 percent increase from the previous year. Singapore is clearly a popular destination for students from Asia, as figures suggest, however recent trends show that small numbers of students from Europe, the United States, and Australia are also choosing this study destination. Many Western students consider Singapore to be a comfortable introduction to Asia, providing the opportunity to study Western styled curriculum in English at a globally ranked institution and to become familiar with Chinese language and business culture.

As part of its pro-business strategy, the government has been actively promoting ‘Singapore Inc' globally. In recent years, it has made the Middle East and India its strategic focus, recognising that there are many untapped opportunities for Singapore businesses. To stay ahead, the government has mapped out several thrusts for growth, including substantial investment in infrastructure, financial services, biomedical services, medical tourism, petrochemicals, logistics, education and infocommunications technology.

Singapore is in the midst of fulfilling its Global Schoolhouse project, which aims to attract 150,000 international students to Singapore by 2015. As of a recent ministerial press conference that figure now stands at 80K international students in Singapore (this equates Singapore with countries such as Canada) . Already, 16 international branch-campuses have been set up comprising global brand names such as INSEAD, Chicago School of Business and Duke Medical School, New York University. There are currently over 80,000 students on transnational courses in Singapore.

The Singapore government has recently put emphasis on building capacity in Singapore and on turning Singapore into an education hub for the region. The ambitious target of attracting 150,000 additional international students to Singapore by 2015 has become a particular threat to the traditional undergraduate recruitment market of Anglophone countries as domestic provision increases. Singapore also has fairly liberal immigration requirements and has made it easier for foreign talent to remain.


Malaysia, another country in which instruction is English is common (particularly at private universities), and has recently started an aggressive campaign to improve the quality and international visibility of its higher education offerdraw in foreign students. Malaysia now has a strong presence at recruiting fairs in the Middle East and Gulf. The Prime Minister of Malaysia recently stated that Malaysia aims to increase the number of foreign students studying in the country to 100,000 by 2010 from the current 50,000. The Malaysian government offers a avariety of scholarships to attract canddiates and already attracts many Chinese students.

The Malaysian government has sponsored a network of overseas Education Promotion Centres, located primarily in Malaysian embassies. These centres are located in the UAE, Indonesia, Vietnam, and China (Beijing). Each has its own website and provides students with personal advice on study options in Malaysia.


Thailand has also invested heavily in their higher education system in recent years. The government set an ambitious target to double the present number of university professors with PhDs to 50% by 2015 and has provided a supportive scholarship scheme. Those receiving scholarships are attracted from around the world, including the US, UK, France, Germany, Japan and China.