Twenty-two years have passed since China restored its administrative sovereignty over Macau in 1999. Guided by the policy of “one country, two systems,” the government of Macau Special Administrative Region (S.A.R.) has achieved world-renowned achievements in the fields of economy, culture, society, and education. Considering the particularities of Macau’s social and historical environment, its development of higher education is particularly noteworthy. Reviewing and summarizing the evolution of Macau’s higher education over the past 20 years can contribute to facilitate the sustainable development of education in Macau, a multicultural society.

This book overcomes the difficulties of incomplete data acquisition and unsystematic document collection and strives to effectively integrate detailed and complete data materials with professional academic concepts. It can be viewed as a new effort to study Macau’s higher education sector. This book is organized into eight chapters. The first chapter recounts the history of higher education in Macau by describing the development before and after its return to China. Chapter 2 analyzes the laws and policies that govern higher education in Macau. The chapters 3 and 4 discuss the scale, structure, and enrollment policies, while chapters 5 and 6 describe the academic situation and international development 6. Finally, chapter 7 summarizes the achievements and experiences of Macau’s higher education, and the opportunities, challenges, and strategies for its sustainable development from the perspective of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GGBA) are concluded in the last chapter.

Three aspects are considered important of this book: The first objective of this research is to maintain the holistic and overall view of historical research, sort out the development of Macau’s higher education since the return, and provide a systematic summary of the successful practice of “one country, two systems” throughout the past 20 years. Second, it examines major issues of higher education in Macau, such as the size and structure of the institutions of teaching and learning, legal policies, enrollment systems, scientific research and academic development, and international development, and provides an effective decision-making basis for the formulation of future development strategies for the higher education sector in Macau. Furthermore, as a result of the overall development of Macau’s society, it anticipates the future development direction of higher education in Macau by putting forward a number of development proposals.

In addition, the analysis of Macau’s educational policies outlined in this book provides an important reference for the future success of the city. As a bridge for China’s opening up and exchanges, Macau’s higher education is bound to be more open and inclusive. This is not only a requirement of Macau’s long-term sustainable development, but also the embodiment of the concept of GGBA. Even though Macau is one of the core cities of GGBA, its higher education has achieved remarkable results since its return. However, compared to Hong Kong and Guangdong, Macau still has a significant gap when it comes to higher education. There are several reasons for this gap, including the endogenous restrictions of the micro-society of Macau, and the limitations imposed by the historical development of ideas and systems. The process of building the GGBA will not only further emphasize Macau’s insufficiently competitive higher education on a global scale, but will also become an integral part of Macau’s higher education system.

Meanwhile, the lack of land, the underdevelopment of the Higher Education Law, and the imbalance of quality and quantity are considered to be the chief problems of Macau’s higher education. Macau should seize the opportunity of the construction of GGBA, maximize its advantages, focus on improving higher education quality to develop the regional education industry. Within 20 years of Macau’s return, 10 universities have constructed a micro-higher education system with impressive achievements. However, behind the achievements lies a development dilemma that Macau has to deal with. The construction of GGBA is not only a rare opportunity, but also a substantial challenge for Macau’s current higher education system. Clearly defining the deficiencies of Macau’s higher education in terms of cooperation and competition in GGBA is necessary if Macau is to participate actively in the higher education undertakings in GGBA, as well as make best use of the high-quality resources found in this Greater Bay Area.

To sum up, this book is considered the most comprehensive study of Macau’s higher education. The book summarizes the complexity of its past and looks to the future for its sustainability. The construction of the GGBA emphasizes the necessity of continuously deepening the mutually beneficial cooperation between the three places, it further establishes win-win regional cooperation, promotes the coordinated development of the regional economy, and gives a new impetus to Hong Kong and Macau’s development. With this goal in mind, the construction of the GGBA will greatly enhance the development of higher education in Macau.

Author Contributions

All authors listed have made a substantial, direct, and intellectual contribution to the work and approved it for publication.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher’s Note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

Keywords: Macau, higher education, education policy, sustainable education, education, society

Citation: Xu W and Sukjairungwattana P (2022) The Study of Macau’s Higher Education 1999–2019. Front. Educ. 7:898238. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2022.898238

Received: 17 March 2022; Accepted: 27 May 2022;
Published: 27 June 2022.

Copyright © 2022 Xu and Sukjairungwattana. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Wei Xu, 926573@qq.com


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By Wei Xu