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This paper reviews the capacity of colleges and universities to serve poor and vulnerable populations during past and present economic shocks. The main argument is that the environment of the global recession - an Asia far more economically integrated than during past economic shocks, with more unified aspirations to be globally competitive and socially responsible - need not delay reforms in higher education. In fact, the global recession is an opportune time for higher education in the Asia and Pacific region to continue reforming governance and administration, access and equity, internal and external efficiency, and regional collaboration. This paper proposes a series of measures to increase the resilience of higher education systems in serving poor and vulnerable populations during the economic recession.
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