Multi-modal Governance of University Learning and Learners: British Malayan Higher Education in Comparative Contexts

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In post WWII British Malaya, the projects of decolonization and nation building were still in full swing and significantly influenced the parameters of new universities being built. These legacies of modernity and imperialism, however, converged with newer drives towards inter-ethnic competition through education, on the one hand, and multi­‐ethnic cooperation within education, on the other. Changes in the relative power balance between local ethnic groups, vis‐à-­vis the departing British, forged an innovative political space in which a multiplicity of cultural and political actors articulated new rhetorics and new governance methods for university learning and university learners. These fresh frameworks for university education, both conceptually and institutionally, were grounded in long‐standing local identities and yet appealed to novel international and cross­‐regional impulses.

This paper analyses the creation of a multi-modal governance of university learners and learning in British Malaya. It examines how English-­language usage and British university structures continued to shape the governance of university creation, whereby British persons and institutions sought create a common transcultural academic space throughout their waning empire. Alongside this, it explores how local cultural groups harnessed both internal and external cultural heritages to reconstruct their definition of university learning and their image of an ideal university student. In evaluating the combination of these divergent and transitioning purposes, this paper demonstrates how Malayan local demands competed with imperial and local governments in order to govern university learning and determine the learning choices of university students.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014
EventXXVI CESE Conference:: Governing Educational Spaces : Knowledge, Teaching, and Learning in Transition - Germany, Freiburg, Germany
Duration: 10 Jun 201413 Jun 2014


ConferenceXXVI CESE Conference:
Abbreviated titleCESE 2014
OtherComparative Education Society of Europe
Internet address


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