Abstracts & Papers in Stream 3

Since the government of Taiwan has addressed the need to pursue excellence in quality through building world-class universities in the 2000s, it started to restructure its higher education system through the policies of role differentiation and funding concentration. This development has led to the formulation of a differentiated academic system in which a small number of higher education institutions are selected to be research-oriented, internationally-focused universities that have been assigned to pursue world-class excellence and have received a large amount of research funding. Meanwhile, the majority of the higher education sector is identified to be teaching-oriented and locally-focused, and therefore need to survive in a more competitive environment without sufficient government funding.
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the presence of educational inequality caused by the above phenomenon in Taiwan. It argues that the emergence of performativity culture and role differentiation in the internationalised and marketised environment has brought a new form of inequality in Taiwan's higher education, as many universities in lower tiers are underfunded under the current uneven pattern of funding. This means that students in these universities and their families have to bear heavier financial burden of education. This leads to reflections on the development of higher education policy after the accomplishment of massification of higher education coupled with increased privatization in relatively wealthy East Asian societies.
Marketization, decentralization and socialization have been the key strategies of contemporary social welfare reforms in China. Minban (private) secondary school is one of those experiments. They provides alternative types of education, and can enjoy greater autonomous from government control. Nevertheless, in the new institutional environment characterized by controlled-decentralized governance reform coupled with increasing popularity of the market principles in its economic reform, such autonomy is not without limit. Within that boundary, the schools have to be active in constructing their strategies to defend and expand their autonomy. Based on an original in-depth analysis of eight school cases covering four major types of minban school in China, this paper explored and categorized their strategies as 'capitalization', 'advocacy', 'avoidance', and 'isolation'. The degree of autonomous obtained was very much depended on their resources, protection and support acquired from the local governments and consumers, through different strategies. This paper argued that, given the reforms for decades, the government still maintained substantial control on education and schools, through the established bureaucratic structure and successful re-penetration into the new institutional environment via new forms of governance. To certain extent, this hampered the possible contribution of the minban schools in China.
Graduate unemployment has become an issue in many East Asian countries in the last two decades. By the end of the first decade, unemployment rate among tertiary degree holders has reached between 25 to 30 percent in four major economies in the region, significantly higher the world average of 19.53% in 2007 and far more higher than the one digit rate among European countries. Popular explanations on graduate unemployment are reviewed with special attention to those on oversupply, mismatching and overeducation. By exploring the incidence of unemployment among graduates in the region from various perspectives, this paper argues that no single theory can provide satisfactory answer to the topic due to a very special political and social background in East Asian countries, which is also a factor that any policy suggestions on responding the issue will have to address.


Higher Education has been expanding rapidly in East Asian countries in the past two decades. While Japan, Korea and Taiwan entering the stage of universal higher education in late 1990s and early 2000s, China has crossed the borderline between elite and mass higher education in 2002. However, higher education expansion in the region is mainly fuelled escalating investment from private resources. The fact that an emergence of large number of private institutes and an increase of tuition fees have been widely witnessed across the region prompts concerns on if the expansion is for the interest of the disadvantaged. By investigating the new financial mechanism behind the expansion and disclosing its impacts on students from disadvantaged backgrounds, especially their access to university, this paper argues for a counterbalancing student aid system as a supplementary scheme to expansion in order to offset its negative impacts.

Full paper download: 1.3.1 Wing-Kit Chan & Xuan Wu.pdf