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Development in Education in East Asia:  Searching for New Research Directions - Webinar 1



The Centre for Research in Education in Asia (CREA) at the University of Bath together with Lingnan University and University of Durham are organising a webinar series on “Development in Education in East Asia”. The series focuses on a variety of development issues and educational topics including educational policy, social justice equity in education, language education, and educational leadership.


Aims: This webinar series aims to share and generate knowledge of the development in education in East Asia. Each webinar consists of 3 key presentations on a specific theme, Q & A and discussions. Through webinars we aim to generate research collaboration ideas and build research teams to apply for funding bids. 



  • University of Bath (UK), CREA
  • Lingnan University (HK), Institute of Policy Studies
  • University of Durham (UK), International and Comparative Research Cluster



SDG17-Partnerships for the Goals: Revitalise the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development

The webinar, through the close cooperation of Lingnan University and the University of Bath and the University of Durham in the UK, to build a foundation to develop a strong partnership, which strives to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 17 (SDG17), which aims to revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development. In particular, the focused areas on development issues include educational policy and social justice equity, which are also highly related to the SDG4: Quality Education and SDG10: Reduced Inequality. In the context of strong collaboration, the webinar promotes a better understanding of the educational development in East Asia from an international perspective. The network among three universities will further strengthen the global partnerships to meet the agenda of SDG17.



Webinar 1: Educational Policy


Convenor: Lingnan University (HK)

16:30 - 18:00, Friday 26 February 2021 (HK time)

08:30 - 10:00, Friday 26 February 2021 (UK time)


Professor Ka Ho Mok and Dr Weiyan Xiong (Lingnan University):

The COVID-19 Crisis and Challenges for Graduate Employment in Greater China: A Critical Review of Skills Preparing Students for Uncertain Futures


Professor Hugh Lauder (University of Bath):

Should the Aim of Education be to Provide Workers for the Economy?


Professor Catherine Montgomery (University of Durham) and Professor Richard Watermeyer (University of Bristol) :

Finding Leadership and Direction in International Higher Education in the Context of COVID-19: Transitioning Forms of Internationalisation?




Topic: The COVID-19 Crisis and Challenges for Graduate Employment in Greater China: A Critical Review of Skills Preparing Students for Uncertain Futures



Graduate employment and unemployment or underemployment are becoming increasingly important issues confronting not only global higher education research but also social and political debates in contemporary societies (Green and Henseke 2020; Brown et al. 2020; Mok and Jiang 2017). The modern graduate market is regarded as a race when the supply of university graduates exceeds the labour market needs, particularly when many higher education systems have experienced massive expansion without carefully matching the changing labour market needs. Therefore, skill mismatch has become a serious social, economic and even political issue across the globe (Goldin and Katz 2008; Boden and Nedeva 2010; Clarke 2018). The imbalance between the supply and demand of graduates has unquestionably caused anxiety and frustration amongst university students and graduates (Green and Henseke 2016a, 2016b; Korpi and Tahlin 2009). The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has further intensified unemployment resulted from the serious global economic downturn (Mok and Ku 2020). Against the COVID-19 crisis context, this paper discusses the issues related to future skills preparing students for uncertain futures particularly disrupted by the present global health crisis. This presentation will critically examine the implications of introducing skills for the Fourth Industrial Revolution for higher education. 





Prof Ka Ho Mok


Prof. Ka Ho Mok

Lingnan University 

Professor Joshua Mok Ka-ho is the Vice-President and concurrently Lam Man Tsan Chair Professor of Comparative Policy of Lingnan University. Before joining Lingnan, he was the Vice President (Research and Development) and Chair Professor of Comparative Policy of The Hong Kong Institute of Education, and the Associate Dean and Professor of Social Policy, Faculty of Social Sciences of The University of Hong Kong. Prior to this, Professor Mok was appointed as the Founding Chair Professor in East Asian Studies and established the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom.


Professor Mok is no narrow disciplinary specialist but has worked creatively across the academic worlds of sociology, political science, and public and social policy while building up his wide knowledge of China and the region. Professor Mok completed his undergraduate studies in Public and Social Administration at the City University of Hong Kong in 1989, and received an MPhil and PhD in Sociology from The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1991 and The London School of Economics and Political Science in 1994 respectively.


In addition, Professor Mok has published extensively in the fields of comparative education policy, comparative development and policy studies, and social development in contemporary China and East Asia. In particular, he has contributed to the field of social change and education policy in a variety of ways, not the least of which has been his leadership and entrepreneurial approach to the organisation of the field. His recent published works have focused on comparative social development and social policy responses in the Greater China region and East Asia. He is also the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Asian Public Policy (London: Routledge) and Asian Education and Development Studies (Emerald) as well as a Book Series Editor for Routledge and Springer.


Dr Xiong Weiyan


Dr. Weiyan Xiong

Lingnan University 

Dr. Weiyan Xiong is a Research Assistant Professor at Lingnan University, Hong Kong. He is also serving as the Director of the MA Program in International Higher Education and Management (IHEM). His research interests include comparative and international education, indigenous education, liberal arts education, and faculty professional development. He received his PhD in Higher Education Management from the University of Pittsburgh, and used to work as a Program Coordinator of Institute for International Studies in Education at the University of Pittsburgh, and a Visiting Student Researcher at Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues of UC Berkeley. His book Ethnic Minority-Serving Institutions: Higher Education Cases Studies from the United States and China was recently published by Palgrave Macmillan.




Topic: Should the Aim of Education be to Provide Workers for the Economy?



The End of Neo-Liberalism? The Emergence of a New Zeitgeist


The pandemic has exposed the flaws in the social contract between successive neo-liberal governments and citizens. This social contract was based on an opportunity bargain in which if young people invested in education they would be rewarded in the labour market. Underwriting this bargain was the idea of meritocracy, that those with the ability and motivation, irrespective of their social class, gender or ethnicity would be able to ascend the occupational ladder.


In striking this bargain neo-liberal governments have made several key assumptions. The primary is that competition in education and in access to jobs is the central principle which drives personal and national success. But this is a particular view of competition based on a Darwinian struggle in which ‘natural’ ability will prove itself irrespective of social constraints. It is for this reason that education alone has been seen as the central driver of meritocracy while social security has been minimal. This assumption explains the obsessive focus in education policy on school performance and exams where success in testing and exams are proof of students and schools’ worth.


A further assumption is that what is good for the individual is good for society. The more high earning individuals in a society the better it is for everyone. This is a version of trickle down theory in which technical and entrepreneurial expertise and wealth shine a light on the whole society, even if it is only in their taxable revenue.


In this bargain what has been less remarked upon are the values that are assumed. Here the hierarchy of jobs in which rewards increase as individuals ascend the ladder is equated with worth. The most important jobs are the ones that accrue the most income. What individuals most value is high income. Readers of orthodox economic texts will recognize homo economicus, lurking behind this assumption:  the man and it is a man which tells us much about the gendered nature of neo-liberalism, whose fundamental drive is to seek higher returns in the labour market.


There is now a gathering intellectual force, underwritten by funding sources, think tanks and the inequalities exposed by the current pandemic that is challenging this social contract in ways similar to the ideas and think tanks that gave impetus to the rise of neo-liberalism. In this presentation these emerging ideas will be discussed.





Prof Hugh Lauder


Prof. Hugh Lauder

University of Bath, UK

Professor Hugh Lauder is Professor of Education and Political Economy at the University of Bath (1996-to present) and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. He was formerly Director, The Institute for Policy Research University of Bath, 2014-2016. He has studied at The University of London, (The Institute of Education), and gained his Doctorate at the University of Canterbury (NZ). He was formerly Dean of Education at Victoria University of Wellington.  He specialises in the relationship of education to the economy and has for over 15 years worked on national skill strategies and more recently on the global skill strategies of multinational companies and their implications for graduate recruitment. His current work is on the alternatives to human capital theory. His recent publications are: Lauder, H, Brown, P, and Cheung, S-Y, (2018) The Fractured Relationship between Education and the Economy, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Vol. 34 No. 2: Technology & the Labour Market Summer. His most recent book is: Brown, P, Lauder, H and Chung S.Y (2020) The Death of Human Capital? Its Failed Promise and How to renew It in an Age of Disruption, New York, Oxford University Press.


His books include: Brown, P, Lauder, H, Ashton, D., (2011) The Global Auction: The Broken Promises of Education, Jobs and Incomes, Oxford University Press, New York; Published in Chinese by the Hunan Science and Technology Press (2013) and Korean, Kaemakowon Publishing House (2013). ;Lauder, H., et al (eds.)  Educating for the Knowledge Economy: Critical Perspectives (2012)  Lauder, H, Brown, P, Dillabough J-A and Halsey, A.H. (eds.) (2006) Education, Globalization and Social Change, Oxford, Oxford University Press, translated into Japanese, University of Tokyo Press,  2012); Brown, P, Green, A and Lauder, H., (2001) High Skills: Globalisation, Competitiveness and Skill Formation, Oxford, Oxford University Press. Brown, P and Lauder, H (2001) Capitalism and Social Progress: The Future of   Society in a Global Economy, Basingstoke, Palgrave Press.  Translated into Chinese, the Social Sciences press, 2007. He has published many academic papers including on international education and globalization, and is editor of the Journal of Education and Work. He has been a Visiting Professor at the Institute of Education, The University of Turku (Finland) and current at the University of Witwatersrand (South Africa) and has been a member of the ESRC Virtual College.



Topic: Finding Leadership and Direction in International Higher Education in the Context of COVID-19: Transitioning Forms of Internationalisation?



The COVID-19 crisis has forced unprecedented change in higher education and has necessitated rapid adaptation at all levels of the university, particularly with respect to international engagement. Leadership of higher education institutions in these circumstances has been influenced by many and often conflicting sources of data from emergency government immigration policy to public health. This presentation focuses on different forms of responses to leading the internationalised university through crisis in a time of forced physical immobility and rapid institutional change. The presentation focuses on three universities in three countries, each with different higher education systems and distinctive experiences of the pandemic, in the UK, Scandinavia and Hong Kong. Based on survey data and analysis of documents, the presentation will focus specifically on how three universities in these different contexts have reconstructed their approaches to internationalisation in the face of the restrictions generated by COVID-19. Despite the evident challenges for international collaboration, there is evidence of innovation and creativity in response to the crisis and alternative directions may be emerging for a more ethical and sustainable internationalisation embedded in university crisis management. Can these new forms of leadership and governance in crisis lead to transitioning forms of internationalisation?





Prof Catherine Montgomery


Prof. Catherine Montgomery

University of Durham, UK

Catherine’s research focuses on internationalisation of higher education and she has a particular interest in transnational higher education in China and East Asia. Catherine’s recent work focuses particularly on mobilities and immobilities in higher education and the internationalisation of curriculum and knowledge. Catherine is also interested in the flows of international students and what this can tell us about the changing landscapes of global higher education.


Prior to joining Durham in September 2019, Catherine held professorial posts at the University of Bath and the University of Hull, both with a focus on international higher education. At the University of Bath, Catherine was also Academic Director for International Partnerships, leading the university’s strategic development, coordination and delivery of worldwide partnerships and identifying, developing and maintaining research, teaching and staff and student exchange links with institutions overseas.


Catherine is the founder and former director of the Centre for Research in Education in China and East Asia at the University of Bath and she has also worked on international and comparative research projects in Denmark, Mexico and Vietnam including a British Council project focusing on Internationalisation strategy in Vietnam and an ESRC funded project looking at autonomy and democracy in education entitled Freedom to Learn. Catherine has also worked closely with Tec de Monterrey in Mexico and a British Council project researching the role of dialogic STEM education in addressing social and cultural disadvantage in Mexico and the UK. She also has active collaborative research links with high profile universities in China, Hong Kong, Australia, Vietnam, Mexico and Europe.


Catherine holds a visiting professorship at the Centre for Higher Education Internationalisation at the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy; she is an affiliated international expert for Monash University’s China Research Network; she is an invited Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and Catherine was awarded a UK National Teaching Fellowship in 2010.

Prof Richard Watermeyer


Prof. Richard Watermeyer

University of Bristol, UK


Richard Watermeyer is a sociologist and professor of higher education and co-director of the Centre for Higher Education Transformations (CHET) at the University of Bristol. His research is predominantly concerned with critical analyses of change and disruption in higher education affecting the organisation and governance of universities and science; academic identity and research praxis; and the public role and contribution of universities and scientists. His recent books include Competitive Accountability in Academic Life: The Struggle for Social Impact and Public Legitimacy (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2019) and The Impact Agenda: Controversies, Consequences and Challenges (Bristol: Policy).  



* A webinar link for each seminar will be provided before the event.



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