Regionalising higher education for repositioning Southeast Asia

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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has led the way in constructing the East Asian region with China, Japan, and South Korea, and an inter-regional entity with the European Union (EU)—known as the Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM). The initial aims were security and trade. Recently, however, higher education has been brought into these regionalising processes, largely as a response to the globalising of neoliberalism. The paper argues that regions are social, economic, and political constructions shaped by both material forces and cultural factors. It emphasises the importance of the latter and explains three mechanisms at work: harmonisation to build intra-ASEAN higher education cooperation; socialisation to create the ASEAN+3 region; and mutual learning to engage with the EU in shaping an ‘ASEM Education Area’. These mechanisms influence the ways in which regional actors form new conceptions of self and other, negotiate norms, and (re)construct their identities and interests, thus creating new forms of cooperation and community. Particularly, mutual learning generates the outcome of a deeper negotiation for an equal partnership between the ‘Asia’ and the ‘Europe’ in ASEM. Hence, higher education regionalism emerges as a way to reposition Southeast Asia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-432
Number of pages16
JournalOxford Review of Education
Issue number4
Early online date27 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© 2017 informa uk Limited, trading as taylor & francis Group


This work was supported by the EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research [grant number 317452].


  • Regional identity
  • higher education regionalism
  • harmonisation
  • socialisation
  • mutual learning


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