Under intensified pressures for improving the global competence of university graduates, national governments across different parts of the globe have to on the one hand expand higher education enrolments and on the other hand assure high quality in teaching and research in order to make sure their higher education systems can compete globally. Many Asian states have been in the forefront of this effort to improve national competitiveness by raising their higher education enrolment rate. As state financing and provision alone will not satisfy the growing demands for higher education, governments in Asia adopt more pro-competition policy instruments and increasingly look to the market/ private sectors in running higher education. Therefore the private higher education sector has paid for much of the higher education sector expansion, leading to revolutionary changes and imparting a growing 'privateness' to Asian higher education systems. This article sets out in this wider socio-economic context to examine the rise of transnational higher education in three Asian societies: Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. With particular reference to examining how the growing prominence of privateness in higher education has challenged the conventional education governance models, this article critically examines how these Asian states have reinvented their regulatory regimes to govern the growing complexity and highly contested public-private mix in higher education.