The major objective of this introductory article is to set the wider policy context for the present special issue with a particular focus to examine how the massification and internationalisation of higher education has taken place in Asia. More specifically, this introduction highlights the major arguments of articles being adopted in this issue. The contributions have been selected and gathered from presentations in various regional and international research events held in the last few years. Having experienced the growing pressure for enhancing their global competitiveness, governments in Asia are determined to expand their higher education systems to provide more learning opportunities for addressing pressing educational demand, putting additional resources to internationalising student experience and raising the research profile in order to quest for regional education hub and world-class university status. However, the rapid expansion of higher education has indeed created more university graduates than the labour market could fully absorb. It has become problematic when the global market currently experiences economic stagnation. This special issue sets out against such a political economy context to examine issues related to changing labour conditions, youth mobility and challenges for education and urban governance.