'Campus Asia' Project Aims to Harmonize Higher Education in the Region

April 20, 2010

East Asia's three big education markets have taken a small step toward integration with the first government-level meeting aimed at increasing the regional mobility of students and professors.

Dubbed "Campus Asia," the project is intended to harmonize China, Japan, and South Korea's colleges and ultimately keep more students in the region, which is a major supplier of undergraduates to American and European campuses.

Representative from the three governments met in Tokyo last Friday. The committee has agreed to explore credit transfers, exchange programs, and quality control in universities across the region.

A series of meetings rotating among the three participating nations, with the next one in China this fall, will flesh out the details, says Yuichi Tanaka, a spokesman for Japan's Ministry of Education. "There are many problems to overcome."

Japan, China, and South Korea together send more than 200,000 college students to the United States each year. Campus Asia is the latest attempt to bridge the formidable cultural, linguistic, and structural barriers in the region's higher-education market. Earlier this year, Japan announced plans to standardize student-evaluation methods with universities in China and South Korea, the possible first step in a Pan-Asian student-exchange program.

Universities in the three counties swap academic credits at their own discretion, but many colleges refuse to recognize foreign-based evaluation systems.