If internationalisation was the persistent theme of the 1990s for universities in the Asian region, globalisation, with an explicit emphasis on the commercialisation of education, is the trend of the current decade. This special issue examines the internationalisation and globalisation of higher education in the region from a number of perspectives. Three of the articles (Mok, Lee and Gopinathan, and Yonezawa) were originally presented at the International Symposium on Globalisation and Educational Governance Change in East Asia conducted at the City University of Hong Kong in June 2002. These articles report the new forms of governance and governance philosophies that have emerged in order to maintain the competitiveness of modern Asian nations. Throughout the region, governments are adapting to radical changes in their environments by turning to forms of public sector steering which focus on central co-ordination and institutional self-governance. Networks and partnerships supplant hierarchical command and control; in the delivery of services, public authority is being shared between governments and with nongovernment enterprises. Maximising public welfare by promoting enterprise, innovation and profitability in both the private and public spheres is now the norm.