Ha Noi, 27 July 2022 – Higher education is a key modality contributing to ASEAN’s regional development, integration, and connectivity agendas. Today on Wednesday, 27 July 2022, during the 15th SHARE Policy Dialogue in Ha Noi, Viet Nam, the ASEAN Secretariat, the SHARE Programme and the members of the ASEAN Working Group on Higher Education Mobility (AWGHEM) officially launched the ‘Roadmap on the ASEAN Higher Education Space 2025 and its Implementation Plan.’
The launch was officiated by H.E. Dr Nguyen Van Phuc, Deputy Minister of Education and Training, Viet Nam, H.E. Mr Giorgio Aliberti, EU Ambassador to Viet Nam, and H.E. Dato’ Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary General of ASEAN. The launch was followed by congratulatory remarks by the regional stakeholders including; Mr Lukáš Gajdoš (Chargé d'Affaires a.i. of the EU Delegation to ASEAN), Mr Philip Masterson (Officer in Charge, SEAMEO RIHED), Dr Choltis Dhirathiti (Executive Director, ASEAN University Network), Mr Libing Wang (Chief, Section for Educational Innovation and Skills Development, UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, Thailand), and Mr Darren McDermott (SHARE Programme Team Leader).
The Roadmap on the ASEAN Higher Education Space 2025 contributes to the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the strengthening of future resilience through enhanced people-to-people connectivity, and improved access and recognition of higher education in the ASEAN region. The Roadmap envisages a resilient and sustainable ASEAN Higher Education Space that enables greater harmonisation and internationalisation of the region’s higher education systems. It is reflective of the new reality for education worldwide, and proposes adaptive and sustainable approaches in responding to the changing context of higher education. This includes augmenting access and inclusion to internationalised higher education provision by students through digital transformation.
During the launch of the Roadmap, H.E. Dato’ Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary General of ASEAN, stated, “The ASEAN Secretariat recognises the crucial importance of synergy and working together to ensure efficient use of resources and maximise impact of our initiatives in the region. The Roadmap on the ASEAN Higher Education Space and its Implementation Plan is also our attempt to synergise our work, consolidate our efforts, and appreciate the valuable work that has been done by the ASEAN Member States and regional partners on implementing a common higher education [space] in South-East Asia.”
H.E. Dr Nguyen Van Phuc, Deputy Minister of Education and Training, Viet Nam stated in his welcoming remark, “Today, I am very glad to witness the launching of the Roadmap on the ASEAN Higher Education Space 2025 and its two-year Implementation Plan. I trust that The Roadmap on the ASEAN Higher Education Space will help enable greater harmonisation and internationalisation of the ASEAN higher education, especially in enhancing people to people connectivity and supporting ASEAN community building.”
In his opening remarks, H.E. Giorgio Aliberti, the EU Ambassador to Viet Nam said, “The EU commit to spend at least 10% of financing for education. As part of the Team Europe, the EU will provide stronger and more coordinated support in education, as this will be the key to tackling eradication of poverty, inequalities and discrimination as well as leaving no one behind. Cooperation in education has gradually become an important instrument for the implementation of EU external policies as an indisputable instrument of soft power. Exchange programmes help people to connect worldwide, reaching out to a large number of stakeholders, which help to promote a positive image of Europe in the world, spreading its messages and fundamental values, such as rule of law and human rights. They contribute to shaping the relationship and connecting the EU with other countries and regions, as is the case today with ASEAN.”
The Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Higher Education was adopted by the 27th ASEAN Summit in 2015. This Declaration initiated the development of a more aligned common space of higher education in South-East Asia, by acknowledging ‘higher education as one of the catalysts in accelerating ASEAN’s economic, political and sociocultural development agenda’ and the need to “embrace [the] diversity and solidarity of the ASEAN Community through enhanced intra-ASEAN mobility of students and scholars.”
In the same year, the EU Support to Higher Education in the ASEAN Region (SHARE) Programme was launched. SHARE is the European Union’s flagship higher education programme with ASEAN. Since 2015, the Programme has worked alongside the ASEAN Secretariat and regional partners to strengthen regional cooperation and enhance the quality, regional competitiveness and internationalisation of ASEAN Higher Education institutions and students. In its current phase, it is being implemented by a consortium comprising the British Council, the DAAD, ENQA, and Nuffic. The SHARE Programme initiated a programme of policy dialogues, the first being held in August 2015, to bring together key regional stakeholders, including students, to share information, exchange views, and propose strategies leading to the establishment of a common higher education space in South-East Asia.
Successive SHARE policy dialogues with the ASEAN Secretariat and regional partners led to the launch of the ASEAN Working Group on Higher Education Mobility (AWGHEM) exactly one year ago on 27 July 2021 at the 13th SHARE Policy Dialogue. The ASEAN Working Group on Higher Education Mobility is co-chaired by ASEAN Secretariat’s Education, Youth and Sports Division (EYSD) and the ASEAN Foundation with the technical and operational advisory of the SHARE Programme. The members of AWGHEM comprise senior Ministry of Education / Ministry of Higher Education officials of the ten ASEAN Member States and representatives of regional organisations including the ASEAN University Network (AUN), the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation Regional Centre for Higher Education and Development (SEAMEO RIHED), the ASEAN Quality Assurance Network (AQAN), UNESCO, and the ASEAN Human Development Organisation (AHDO).
This event, the 15th SHARE Policy Dialogue, is entitled ‘Envisioning the Future of a Higher Education Common Space in Southeast Asia’. The Dialogue is co-hosted by the Ministry of Education and Training of Viet Nam and is organised in partnership with the Education, Youth, and Sports Division of the ASEAN Secretariat (EYSD ASEC), SEAMEO RIHED, the ASEAN University Network, and UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education.
The Roadmap on the ASEAN Higher Education Space 2025 therefore builds on the significant developments and outcomes achieved since the adoption of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration. The third ASEAN Work Plan on Education 2021 – 2025, adopted by the ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting (ASED) on 31 May 2021, will see the work in this sphere of the ASEAN Socio-cultural Community Blueprint consolidated, contributing to the attainment of the ASEAN Vision 2025, thus furthering the quality, competitiveness, and internationalisation of its higher education institutions.
The initiatives under the Roadmap are aligned with ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the strengthening of future resilience through enhanced people to people connectivity, and enhanced improved access to and recognition of higher education in the ASEAN region. In addition, the Roadmap is consistent the ASEAN Declaration on Human Resource Development in the Changing World of Work, the ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025, the Joint Statement on digital transformation of education systems in ASEAN, the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework.
Philip Masterson, Officer in Charge of SEAMEO RIHED, emphasised that, “With a rapidly changing landscape in higher education, there is a crucial need to work closely and quickly together to redefine the common space in regional higher education and put forward a more dynamic platform from which to address tomorrow’s challenges and synergise our efforts. SHARE Policy Dialogue 15 provides an important regional platform in this respect to strengthen higher education partnerships and see the complementary efforts of partners coming together around a shared understanding and vision for a more resilient and sustainable space in higher education that is relevant to the region and ready for the future. SEAMEO RIHED is open and committed to working with our partners towards this goal and for the benefit of the region.”
Libing Wang, UNESCO Bangkok confirmed that, “It is in UNESCO’s DNA to promote the internationalisation of higher education as it can contribute to the ultimate mission of building a culture of peace in the minds of men and women. UNESCO hopes that with the implementation of the new roadmap, the ASEAN regional higher education integration process can be inclusive and engaging, aligned with the global consensus, with more technical, scholarship, and financial resources from both internal and external sources to achieve their shared objectives.”
Darren McDermott, the Team Leader of the SHARE Programme stated that, “The 15th SHARE Policy Dialogue allows regional higher education partners to continue to explore innovations and initiatives contributing to the transformation of higher education in Southeast Asia. At this two-day discussion regional stakeholders re-affirm their commitment and partnership to support the implementation of the newly launched Roadmap on the ASEAN Higher Education Space 2025 and its Implementation Plan to ensure the continued progress of Southeast Asia on these important initiatives and objectives.”