Consider this opening paragraph to an article in University World News early this year:
Many Asian countries have been setting ambitious goals to expand and improve their higher education sectors to respond to their growing aspirational middle class and as a result are on the way to catching up with and even overtaking the best higher education systems of the West.
Indeed, the Institute of International Education’s latest report on global education research entitled “Asia: The next higher education superpower?” finds that the total number of universities and tertiary graduates in Asia outnumber those in North America and Europe.
From the viewpoint of many Western policymakers and media elite, the rise of Asia in terms of education is understood both as an opportunity and source of anxiety. On the one hand, countries such as Australia view the rise of Asia as an opportunity to expand trade, increase student mobility, and grow research collaborations. On the other hand, as Asia becomes a dominate global education player, some Western governments — and universities — fear they will loose out to their Asian counterparts.
How do we understand these mixed feelings?
The guest on this show of FreshEd is Fazal Rizvi, Professor in Education at the University of Melbourne. He has a forthcoming book chapter in the Handbook of Global Education Policy, which will be published by Blackwell press in 2016, that uses a post-colonial analysis to understand Western discourses on the rise of Asia. Within these discourses, Rizvi finds an “us” versus “them” dichotomy that he connects to colonialism. The rise of Asia from this perspective “invokes conceptions of the Asian ‘others’ whose cultures must be understood, whose languages must be learnt, and with whom closer relationships must be developed – in order for us [the West] to realize our economic and strategic purposes” (Rizvi, 2013).