Research Cluster #3

“Exploring Hybrid Universities in East Asia: Cultures, Values and Changes”

Due to the prevalence of the globalizing force and neoliberalism, many universities have gone through major transformations in terms of missions, governance and institutional practices. Moreover, greater internationalization might have resulted in further homogenization among universities since international or Western standards are adopted by East Asian counties. However, there is an alternative argument that traditional Asian values or Confucius ideas have played a key role in enhancing and raising institutional performance/competitiveness. Traditional East Asian values are characterized by collective well-being, authoritarian leadership and management, respect for seniority, and emphasis on interpersonal relationships while the Western standards relatively tend to stress differences. Therefore, it has become an interesting issue to explore to what extent that higher education institutions in this region have changed their value orientations over the past two decades. The aims of this research project are to explore the hybridity in East Asian higher education, theorize its unique experiences and contribute to the research field. The main research questions are:

(i)   Are East Asian universities different from those in Western countries?
(ii)  If so, in what ways are they different?
(iii) Why are there such differences?

This is a cross-country study consisting of China, Hong Kong SAR, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore. It is a three-year study comprising of three phases – the first phase is to build a case for East Asian characteristics in the historical development of East Asian universities in specific contexts; the second phase is to collect empirical evidence of these characteristics, and the third phase is to theorize the hybridization in higher education.

It will be argued that East Asian universities are different from Western universities because of hybridization where Western academic models interact with local traditional cultures in different societal settings. East Asian universities are not just influenced by global trends in higher education; they are also influenced by Asian values, Islamic and Confucian traditions. Hybridization is the key concept in this study which refers to the cross-cultural influence in a particular setting. In globalization studies, hybridity is the product of global and local interactions, the interplay between external and internal influences on a particular social institution such as universities. The scope of this study will include the following aspects in the context of universities found in the above mentioned countries:

  • Hybridity in governance and management
  • Hybridity in programmes and curriculum
  • Hybridity in human resources
  • Hybridity in finance
  • Hybridity in teaching and learning
  • Hybridity in research and development

Team Members:

  • Professor Sheng-Ju Chan
    National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan
  • Dr. Molly N. N. Lee
    Universiti Sains Malaysia (former professor)
  • Professor Morshidi Sirat
    Universiti Sains Malaysia
  • Professor Rui Yang
    University of Hong Kong
  • Dr. William Yat Wai Lo
    Hong Kong Institute of Education
  • Dr. Cheng Cheng Yang
    National Chiayi University, Taiwan
  • Dr. Akiyoshi Yonezawa
    Nagoya University, Japan
  • Dr. Jisun Jung
    University of Hong Kong
  • Dr. Edilberto C. de Jesus
    Asian institute of Management, Philippines
  • Dr. Yeow-Tong Chia
    University of Sydney
  • Dr. Nhai Nguyen
    RMIT University, Vietnam
  • Dr. Ly Tran
    Deakin University, Australia


  • May 2015 – May 2016
    Empirical data collection of sample universities in selected countries.
  • May 2016 – May 2017
    Cross-countries survey of hybrid universities.

Report on Cluster Meeting August 2015

Team Members in attendance

  • Professor Sheng-Ju Chan, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan
  • Molly N. N. Lee, Universiti Sains Malaysia (former professor)
  • Professor Morshidi Sirat, Universiti Sains Malaysia
  • Chang Da Wan, Universiti Sains Malaysia
  • Professor Rui Yang, University of Hong Kong
  • William Yat Wai Lo, Hong Kong Institute of Education
  • Cheng Cheng Yang, National Chiayi University, Taiwan
  • Akiyoshi Yonezawa, Nagoya University, Japan
  • Jisun Jung, University of Hong Kong
  • Professor Edilberto C. de Jesus, Asian institute of Management, Philippines
  • Yeow-Tong Chia, University of Sydney
  • Professor Saravanan Gopinathan, Senior Advisor to Head Foundation and National University of Singapore
  • Nhai Nguyen, RMIT University, Vietnam
  • Ly Tran, Deakin University, Australia
  • Tsui-Ting Kang, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan


  1. We completed the second meeting in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from 20th to 21st August 2015.
  2. A journal special issue is under preparation and aims to be published at the field of higher education, the Asia Pacific region or comparative education. Later we will use these manuscripts to produce an edited  book. The publication is mainly based on the research findings of the first stage with more historical and sociological orientations in different countries and societies.
  3. From now on, we are moving into the second stage with the intention of investigating a few universities in different higher education systems.
  4. The next meeting will be held in Singapore in August or early September 2016, probably in collaboration with the Head Foundation. The focus of this gathering is to present and discuss the outcomes of the second stage and look into the third stage which will focus on attempting to establish a Model/Theory for Hybridity of Higher Education in East Asia.
  5. Some team members will attend the 2016 World Congress of Comparative Education Societies, WCCES at Beijing Normal University from August 22nd to 26th.  We will form a panel at this major event to promote the dialogue and interaction with other researchers across the global higher education landscape.
  6. August 2015 – 2016
    Empirical data collection of sample universities in selected countries.
  7. 2017 – 2018
    Cross-countries survey of hybrid universities


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