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8th ASEF Regional Conference on Higher Education (ARC8)

Education

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Project Period:
01 Dec 2020 - 31 Dec 2021
Venue:
Virtual and Hybrid
Contact:
Department:
Theme:

The ASEF Regional Conference on Higher Education (ARC) – formerly called the ASEF Rectors’ Conference and Students’ Forum – is the Official Dialogue Partner of the ASEM Education Ministers Meeting (ASEMME) and the only bi-regional multi-stakeholder dialogue platform for university and student leaders, policy makers and ministers to discuss higher education issues and shape the education landscape in Asia and Europe.

THE MISSION OF #ARC8

  • Facilitate exchange of good practices and networking among universities and student organisations in Asia and Europe
  • Inspire stakeholders to take action on issues of joint concern in Asia and Europe
  • Inform and influence policymakers of the 51 ASEM Partner Countries

KEY FACTS ON #ARC8

WHEN
Throughout December 2020 – December 2021

WHERE
Online and onsite in various Asian countries

TOPIC
Outlook 2030: Inclusive and Diverse Higher Education in Asia and Europe

PARTICIPANTS
Expert group: 28 invited experts, university and student organisation leaders
Beneficiaries: ~850 attendees and beneficiaries at the hybrid and virtual events and online materials

METHODOLOGY
▪ Online expert working group discussions and consultations formulating outputs
▪ Virtual and face-to face policy discussions with decision makers
▪ Virtual and face-to-face capacity building trainings

TOPIC OF #ARC8

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are a universal call for action to shape a better future for all. Universities and their students have a key responsibility to tackle complex societal challenges of our times, manifested in these Goals. While recognising the outstanding results of universities contributing to the SDGs, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how fragile the achievements on the goals are. According to the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020, COVID-19 is reversing decades of progress on poverty, healthcare and education. Green and equitable economic recovery is not possible without innovative tertiary education and a renewed commitment to inclusion in tertiary education, if we are to deliver on our promise on leaving no one behind.

UNESCO invited higher education institutions in July 2020 to put the values of inclusion and equity on their recovery roadmap, develop new partnerships, inclusive online learning solutions, and improve policies together with national officials and international organisation in the next decade. The ASEM Education Ministers have also highlighted at their last meeting that the ASEM Education Process should aim at ensuring inclusion and equality in education by building comprehensive education systems that are accessible to all.

In accordance with these calls, ARC8 invites Asian and European higher education experts and student leaders to leverage on the current COVID-19 disruption and make inclusion and diversity central values of their paradigm shift. Titled “Outlook 2030: Inclusive and Diverse Higher Education in Asia and Europe”, ARC8 will explore how universities and students can foster inclusion and diversity in the final decade for the Agenda2030, and raise awareness on potential risks and opportunities in a post-COVID world along 4 subthemes:

1 | Inclusive Learning and Teaching in a Digital World
2 | Inclusive and Flexible Lifelong Learning Pathways
3 | Inclusive International Mobility of People and Knowledge
4 | Equitable Access and Success in Higher Education

The theme aligns with the priority areas of the ASEM Education Process and with the confirmed topic of the ASEMME8 on “ASEM Education Vision and Strategy 2030” as well.

PROJECT ELEMENTS OF #ARC8

ARC8 Expert Group Meetings | Online | December 2020 – August 2021

A selected group of experts, university and student organisation leaders collaborate online to prepare an ARC8 Outlook Report 2030: Inclusive and Diverse Higher Education in Asia and Europe along the subtopics of ARC8. The Outlook Report outlines emerging issues that could grow into major challenges and/or opportunities in the coming 10 years in the given field/topic. Inputs for the report will come from an online consultation process with stakeholders in the 51 ASEM partner countries and from previous research done by Asian and European stakeholders. The Report will include recommendations for ASEM policy makers and for ASEM universities.

The ARC8 Outlook Report 2030 has two main purposes

  • Serve as a basis for policy dialogues with ASEM education policy makers;
  • Outline directions for capacity building training for ASEM universities.

ARC8 Virtual Conference | Online | September  2021

The virtual conference will launch the Outlook Report 2030 developed by the ARC8 Expert Group and present the main findings and recommendations for policy makers and ASEM universities. The conference programme will consist of panel discussions and debate sessions featuring members of the ARC8 Expert Group and prominent thought leaders from Asia and Europe. Attendees will have the chance to further discuss and contribute to the findings.

ARC8 Capacity Building Trainings | Hybrid | September – December 2021

The capacity building trainings will build on the recommendations developed by the ARC8 Expert Group (see above) and engage higher education stakeholders to jointly work towards a more inclusive and diverse higher education sector in their countries. There are two trainings envisioned in a partially virtual format combining in-person and virtual participation:

  • Southeast Asia, October 2021
  • South Asia, November 2021

The target group consists of youth/student leaders and university managers within the specific regions. The trainings are designed to

  • Increase the participants’ understanding of the ARC8 topic/subtopics and get familiar with global institutional practice in these fields;
  • Assist the participants to develop action plans which they can implement in their home institution to improve inclusion and diversity in different areas;
  • Build an Asia-Europe community of student leaders, university managers and education practitioners who can make a difference in higher education by 2030.

ARC8 Policy Dialogue Meetings | Hybrid | throughout the project

As ARC8 is the Official Dialogue Partner of the ASEM Education Ministers’ Meeting (ASEMME), members of the ARC8 Expert Group will be invited to engage in policy dialogue with ASEM policy makers based on their findings and recommendations of the Outlook Report 2030 and the outputs of the capacity building workshops. As part of the policy dialogue process, members of the ARC8 Expert Group could be invited to contribute to the following meetings: ASEM Education Senior Officials First Meeting (SOM1), 2021, Germany; 8th ASEM Education Ministers’ Meeting (ASEMME8), 2021, Thailand; Events related to regional policy forums, like the Bologna Policy Forum of the European Higher Education Ministers’ Meeting, the Southeast Asian Higher Education Senior Officials Meeting, the World Access to Higher Education Day, etc.

EXPECTED IMPACT OF #ARC8

In the long-term, the impact of ARC8 is two-fold

Enhanced civil society engagement in the ASEM Education Process

  • Through evidence-based policy dialogues between ASEM Ministers and officials, academics, education leaders and practitioners, representatives from the business and industry, policy makers and national governments, IOs and NGOs
  • Through content input to the policy dialogue process, towards sustainable education policies to be considered at a national, regional and – representing the Asia-Europe position – global level.

Enhanced connectivity among ASEM higher education stakeholders

  • Through the exchange of good practices and networking among higher education stakeholders in Asia and Europe;
  • Through strengthened Asia-Europe networks among universities and student associations as well as various stakeholders in education;
  • Through capacity building in ARC8 topic areas and incentivising on issues of joint concern, thereby contributing to the achievement of the SDGs.

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