Higher Education in Hong Kong and Singapore: An Optimistic or Pessimistic Future?

Year: 2000

Author: HIU-HONG, L

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Abstract:
In recent years, higher education in Hong Kong and Singapore has envisaged unprecedented changes and reforms, which affect significantly the daily lives of academia in addition to the management style of the university. Globalization is manipulated as a rationale for reforms with an aim to cope with the age of fast-changing technology and knowledge-based economy. Meanwhile, globalization embraces several values that prevail among universities, namely: economic rationalism, academic capitalism and corporate managerialism. The university becomes more business-like and enterprise-oriented. Business practices such as performance indicators, benchmarking, quality asurance and control, commercialization of applied research, user-pay principle, market incentives, and diversification of resources are transplanted to the higher education sector.

These phenomena demonstrate a paradigm shift from perceiving the university as a cultural institution to a public service one. Following the Anglo-American experiences of public sector reforms, higher education is similarly required to achieve the goals of "efficiency, effectiveness and economy" in the name of New Public Management (NPM). Smarter and wiser higher education, in terms of resource allocation, emerges at the expense of the traditional ethos of collegiality among academia for institutional decision-making and management. This article examines the impacts of higher education reforms on academe and academia in Hong Kong and Singapore. It is argued that higher education is cloaked by a pessimistic atmosphere, in which academics are pressurized by ever harsher external scrutiny over teaching, research and university administration.

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