Higher education and development in Asia

Higher education is an important form of investment in human capital. In fact, it can be regarded as a high level or a specialised form of human capital, the contribution of which to economic growth is very significant. It is rightly regarded as the “engine of development in the new world economy” (Castells, 1994, p. 14). The contribution of higher education to development can be varied: it helps in the rapid industrialization of the economy, by providing manpower with professional, technical and managerial skills. In the present context of transformation of societies into knowledge societies, higher education provides not just educated workers, but knowledge workers to the growth of the economy. It creates attitudes, and makes possible attitudinal changes necessary for the socialisation of the individuals and the modernisation and overall transformation of the societies. Fourthly, and most importantly, higher education helps, through teaching and research in the creation, absorption and dissemination of knowledge. Higher education also helps in the formation of a strong nation-state and at the same time helps in globalisation. Lastly, higher education allows people to enjoy an enhanced ‘life of mind’ offering the wider society both cultural and political benefits (TFHES, 2000, p. 37).

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