Casting a Wide Net: Broadening Availability to Higher Education
Governments often find it difficult to strike a balance between investing resources in highly-skilled graduates vs. making sure that higher education is widely available. Offering a “tiered system” of education is one option and, due to the economic downturn, governments in the region have placed a higher priority on technical and vocational education.
Nonetheless, many talented students still lack access to educational opportunities and large segments of the population in East Asian countries remain marginalized. A mix of laissez-faire and ineffective policies has cemented these high inequity levels. There are multiple constraints to improving equity of access and performance, which will need to be addressed. The research examines financial barriers to and other determinants of equitable access and draws lessons from lower/middle income East Asian countries on expansion strategies.
China Equity Paper (Added July 21)
Chinese tertiary education has experienced a paradigm shift-from a simple elite system into a mass and diversified system with multiple providers in the past three decades. But in the process of growth, equal access, affordability, gender, graduate employment, quality control, and the redistribution of the best education resources all become public concerns. The report finds inequity in access to education due to socio-economic status, urban/rural, gender and ethnicity. Students from low income families, rural areas, female and minorities face higher hurdles to access good quality education. The government has three new policies in place in order to overcome inequities in access. One is to invest more money in the less developed regions, to provide more tertiary education opportunities to ethnic minorities and students from poor families. The other is to allow poor students to take loans from their hometown before they get registered at colleges and universities. Many provinces in the country started to implement this policy, which intends to meet the financial needs of all students, in 2009. The third policy is to develop technical and vocational education to complement standard tertiary opportunities in the country.
Malaysia Equity Paper (Added July 21)
This study shall first provide an overview of the development of national policies which had impacted the growth and demographics of Malaysian higher education. The higher education sector in Malaysia has grown remarkably since the first university campus was established in 1959. Every group included in the study enjoyed better access over the last three decades: all the ethnic groups, women, and those from more inaccessible and less developed regions in the country. Increased access however has not come with equitable patterns of participation. Women from every ethnic and geographical category show increased participation in education and training in the last four decades, overtaking men at every level except the doctoral. Women from every ethnic and geographical category show increased participation in education and training in the last four decades, overtaking men at every level except the doctoral. Bumiputera women participation has increased the most with women. Data from the study show that the public university admissions quota system worked better for the Chinese than Indian students. It is clear that opportunities for higher education have improved very significantly over the last 25 years. However, access to higher education cannot be taken out of the context of equity, especially in light of policies which legitimizes selection.
Thailand Social Monitor (Added July 21)
The global economy has become increasingly complex and competitive. Many countries have turned to knowledge-based growth to transition from labor-intensive sectors to new and emerging economic activities that require higher skills and intellectual capital. In Thailand, higher education increasingly plays an essential role in enabling greater opportunities for economic growth and attractiveness to foreign investment. This social monitor provides a snapshot of the current state of the higher education sector in Thailand by examining its key characteristics, latest developments, strengths, and weaknesses. It also focuses on the extremely important relationships between higher education, research and development, innovation policies, and the private sector. In short, Thailand can rightfully point to major achievements in the development of its higher education system, including the establishment of autonomous universities and increasing access through innovative open universities such as Rajabhat and Rajamangala. However, the higher education system faces many challenges in the areas of governance, financing, quality, access, and its relationship to the private sector. Without significant changes in both policies and attitudes in these areas, Thailand's future vision as a knowledge-based economy relying on highly skilled labor and technological advances to drive growth and productivity will be extremely difficult to achieve.
Vietnam: Equity and Access to Tertiary Education
This study analyzes the determining factors for disparities in tertiary education access, particularly gender, geographical location, and socio-economic status; examines the policies in place to improve equity and access in tertiary education; and offers concrete policy recommendations to broaden participation. The Vietnam Household Living Standard Survey (VHLSS 2006) and the National Economics University Survey (NEU 2009) are used to determine predictors of access and equity in Vietnam. They show that geographical location (urban over rural), greater parental education and higher socio-economic status are important and positive determining factors for improved access. Entrance examination scores, education costs and geographical location also affect completion rates and performance among NEU students. The paper shows that there is room for improvement in governmental policies to advance access and equity, as despite recent increases in loan and scholarship amounts and established social assistance programs for ethnic minorities, the costs of higher education are still too high, especially for the poorest students.
Indonesia: Higher Education Financing
To strengthen Indonesia’s higher education sector will require reorganizing public expenditure at higher education institutions and increasing the level of public funding. Overall, Indonesia needs to increase public funding for higher education and make public institutions stronger and more efficient. Also, since private institutions account for nearly two-thirds of Indonesia’s current enrollment, this report argues that strengthening support for them will be critical to improving the higher education system overall. The paper also explores how to make the current public financing more equitable and future expansion more efficient, given the expected increased spending on education by the Indonesian government.
Indonesia: Equity and Access in Higher Education
This paper examines the state of equity and access to higher education and places it within the historical, cultural and political climate in Indonesia. Its main objectives are to: acquire information on the disparities in higher education opportunities in Indonesia, identify the main causes of inequality in higher education (including monetary and non-monetary factors), and offer concrete policy recommendations to address the inequity in access to higher education. The paper finds that geography, socio-economic status, and gender are three main determining factors for inequity in higher education. The paper also evaluates the policies undertaken by the government to combat inequities in access. The paper recommends interventions to support individuals, increase government funding, strengthen institutional capacity, and expand innovative delivery options. These goals can be achieved by establishing full and partial means-tested scholarships, which at a minimum, should cover the standard cost of living. In addition, in order to improve access and equity, existing programs must be efficiently expanded, higher education offerings diversified to accommodate a wide spectrum of needs, interests, and capabilities, and open and distance education using information and communication technology fully developed.
Access to and Equity of Higher Education in East Asia
Given the importance of higher education to economic growth and social development, this paper aims to provide an in-depth diagnostic of the main access and equity challenges faced by higher education in East Asia and key policies which need to be in place to address them. The paper assesses and analyzes educational attainment, enrolment and completion indicators for current higher education school age students and workforce, using household and labor surveys from individual countries in the region. Specifically, the analysis explores the determining factors for students’ enrolling in and completing higher education, such as their geographical location, ethnic group, education, family income and father’s education. Of particular interest is whether one can differentiate between shorter-term characteristics of disadvantage, such as the family’s economic status, and longer term characteristics, such as the education level of the students’ parents. The estimated number of university-age adults attending and completing university varies widely across the East Asian countries studied. At the same time, an evaluation of the equity aspects of enrolments and completions reveals significant inequity in several countries, in particular Cambodia, along geographical location, ethnic group, family wealth and parental education. Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand and potentially Indonesia all exhibit long-term characteristics of disadvantage. When longer-term factors are more important, then interventions need to focus on dealing with long-term disadvantages, such as awareness campaigns and special measures for ethnic minorities (including improving the quality of secondary and tertiary schooling, language support, and the use of ethnic minority teachers).