Improving Transitions From School to University to Workplace

Publication | June 2012

The number of colleges and universities in developing countries in Asia is increasing, which has the potential to improve the prospects for economic development and better quality of life.

If Asia is to achieve the vision of becoming the world's economic driver, it will need to provide high-quality higher education for a sufficient number of secondary school graduates, especially in the fields of science and technology. More importantly, its universities at all levels will need to graduate creative thinkers who can respond to changes in global circumstances.

This publication, Improving Transitions: From School to University to Workplace, stresses the importance of tackling three key challenges in strengthening the external efficiency of higher education in developing Asia:

  • as more students enter colleges and universities, there is a greater need to improve their readiness for higher learning. Senior secondary schools need to acknowledge the changing nature of higher learning in universities, and specifically to learn how to provide a curriculum and pedagogy that foster creative thought, problem solving, critical thinking, and entrepreneurial spirit. In some countries, this calls for increased readiness in specific subjects like science and mathematics. In other countries, it also requires aligning the school curriculum more closely with university entrance examinations;
  • as more families make greater investments in their children's higher education, they have rising expectations about the outcomes of that education - notably better jobs and rising incomes. Governments and higher education leaders must pursue higher education reform, which helps to foster in graduates the knowledge and skills that will drive productivity in a rapidly changing labor market. Moreover, globalized workplaces require university graduates with generic skills that include, among others, cross-cultural competencies and communication; and
  • Third, the growing number of universities also means increasing competition for funds for scientific research. Top-tier universities will continue to have an advantage in attracting funding.

However, there is a need for fresh strategies for productive research partnerships, particularly to help second- and third-tier higher education institutions (HEIs) forge partnerships and attract funding for research that will benefit their local communities. Partnerships between HEIs across borders can provide opportunities for opening access to higher education programs applicable to the wider subregional and regional labor markets in Asia.

Investment in advanced information and communications technology can boost research productivity by linking remote universities to their national counterparts and to other universities across national borders.

Finally, cross-border collaboration can help improve regional centers of excellence in higher learning and research.


  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Making Globalization Work for Higher Education Efficiency
  • Increasing Efficiency while Widening Access: Aligning Schools with Universities
  • Alignment of Higher Education and the Workplace
  • An Efficient Role for Research in Asian Colleges and Universities
  • Recommendations
  • References

Additional Details

  • Education
  • Secondary Education
  • Tertiary and higher education
  • RPS124932
  • 978-92-9092-824-9 (Print)
  • 978-92-9092-825-6 (Web)

Subscribe to our monthly digest of latest ADB publications.

Follow ADB Publications on social media.