A wide variety of British universities are expanding efforts to attract international students. This article argues that higher education's implicit claim to all-inclusive 'universality' may hereby be challenged by subsequent issues of cultural particularity. Here I set to conceptualise possible differences in the learning culture of Asian international students through a Confucian-Socratic framework. The Socratic method, our archetypal Occidental model, is traditionally seen as an experiential learner-centred pedagogy that values creativity and intellectual independence. But the Confucian approach, the archetypal Oriental exemplar, is normally presented as a didactic teaching-centred pedagogy with greater emphasis on strategic, directed thinking. I conclude that refl ection in these ways may lead to a culturally sensitive form of education and also help identify the epistemological and ontological dimensions that enhance a more flexible approach to teaching and learning.