ABSTRACT: The future of Malaysia as a high-income and competitive nation largely depends on its pool of highly skilled human capital. Hence, the issue of human capital development has taken centre stage in numerous reform agendas of Malaysia. This paper seeks to provide examples of policy initiatives aimed at facilitating the management of highly educated talent in Malaysia. It subsequently considers the role of higher education institutions, particularly the universities, as attractors, educators and retainers of intellectuals, in shaping talent. In conclusion, we argue that more significant underlying shortcomings of talent development are derived from the still transitional nature of the reforms and incomplete structural changes occurring in the national system, and that a change in mindset is the first necessary step towards nurturing and developing a human resource talent pool. © 2016 Association for Tertiary Education Management and the LH Martin Institute for Tertiary Education Leadership and Management.