Quality and the new Flagship University Ideal in Asian Higher Education, by David P. Ericson


A singular vision has propelled higher education and ministries of education in Asia since the new millennium. It is a vision launched
by the once rising tide of a globalized world order that spilled into higher education: in order to be competitive on the world scene,
each Asian country had to build “World Class Universities,” which could be compared and rank-ordered with the pre-eminent
research universities of America, Britain and elsewhere. And if the pre-eminent American and British research universities could
not be quickly surpassed, punctuated jumps up the status ladder of global higher education would establish an “heir-apparent”
trajectory. Now, however, the rising tide of globalism has perhaps crested. Indeed, as some scholars of globalism and higher
education point out, in certain aspects of national policy the rising tide is turning into a receding one. Nation-states are recoiling
from an elite-driven, transnational world order into an “inside economy” that is concerned with its own issues of development and
sustainability, quite apart from measuring itself against the rest of the world. In time, higher education in Asia is likely to follow suit.
Globalism created the vision of “World Class Universities” ranked in an imitative hierarchical order; its demise suggests the need
for other ideals that can drive the quest for excellence in higher education in Asia. The bedrock of educational quality for the New
Flagship University in Asia is excellence in all of the forms of knowledge and understanding of human experience. The stronger
the excellence in each form, the better the university’s earned standing amongst its peers. But this is not a relative relationship,
like the World Rankings, where worth is measured against other institutions in a game of winners and losers. Rather, it is
measurement against the standards of excellence inherent in each form itself.

David P. Ericson
Publication date: 
November 9, 2017
Publication type: 
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)