Educational Imperialism? Reflections on working with Asian colleagues

Stephen Griffiths

International University of Malaya-Wales (IUMW), Level 1, Block A, City Campus, Jalan Tun Ismail, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA;

4th May 2017


Following many years of welcoming Asian students to Wales and conducting lecturer workshops in Asia, the experience of working continuously with Asian colleagues has given an extra dimension to and created different challenges for the author, compared with being an educational “consultant” or delivering at a UK based campus.

Managing the competing quality dictates of a variety of quality audit processes, both University of Wales (QAA) based, ISO and those of the national Malaysian Qualifications Authority (MQA), allows interesting comparisons of similarities and differences, both in content and processes. In terms of changing assessment, learning and teaching cultures at IUMW, the need for clear communications, reinforcement, repetition and sensitive guidance are paramount. The positive enthusiasm apparent for embracing internationally respected norms has to be balanced by respect for evolutionary change traditions, a sometimes over respectful deferential culture and hierarchical management structures, witnessed in a series of training workshops conducted by the author.

UK colleagues will recognise many features of existing modes of delivery and an educational ethos in Asia, familiar to older generation lecturers, from their early UK experience. Not all older practices are bad. Not all new systems are good. Asian culture respects difference and ‘shades of grey’, in a way that Western practitioners may find frustrating. Seeking workable systems with acceptable quality outcomes should be the end product. Respect for working colleagues and empowerment for university practitioners, from administrative officers to front line tutors, should be the means to this end.


Conceptual discussion, with some practical application reports.

Findings: xxxx

Originality: xxxx

Key words: (Management of change, Learning and Teaching Strategy, Asian/UK educational culture).

Article classification: Research paper.