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On Wednesday 16 May 2018, Dr Chou Meng-Hsuan of NTU Singapore led a seminar at JIAS on ‘Higher Education Regionalisms’.

Dr Chou Meng-Hsuan is Nanyang Assistant Professor in the Public Policy and Global Affairs Programme at NTU Singapore, and a 2018 JIAS Writing Fellow. The seminar formed part of the 2018 JIAS Writing Fellows Seminar Series.



‘Regional cooperation in the higher education policy domain has been on the rise throughout the last decades. In this presentation, I will introduce the concept of ‘higher education regionalism’, develop a heuristic framework for examining this multifaceted phenomenon, and empirically compare and analyse two instances of higher education regionalisms (Europe and South East Asia).

‘In so doing, this talk engages with and challenges the diffusion argument common in both European higher education studies and new comparative regionalism. The empirical case comparisons use publicly accessible documents from regional bodies active in higher education policy coordination, and more than 53 semi-structured interviews with key policy actors involved in these developments.

‘Specifically, the empirical application identifies and traces the policy ideas of European and Southeast Asia higher education regionalisms, and consider whether the extant models of regional cooperation and the knowledge discourse affected their evolution.

‘The findings reveal that the so-called ‘Bologna Process export thesis’ and the diffusion assumptions of comparative regionalism are too simplistic and misleading. Instead, I conclude that an interdependent perspective offers more traction to understanding the emergence and evolution of higher education intra- and inter-regionalisms.’

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