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主论坛:亚洲教育:迈向更加繁荣和美好的明天
马来西亚高等教育部秘书长拿督·阿布杜·拉希姆先生主论坛演讲 

“Asia in a new Century”, “ Asia Rising” and “Asia: Dawn of a New Century” are some of the tag-lines and book titles to reflect current focus on the dynamic and important role of Asia in the context of global economic and geopolitical landscape.  Many of the proponents of this New Era for Asia in the global landscape are non-Asians. All these are indications of the rapidly rising importance of Asia, politically, economically and culturally (Yojana Sharma, 2012). There are at least two ways of looking at how the Asian century or era might play out in the current and future global landscape. First, how will Asia strengthen itself as a region? And second, how will Asia interact with the global system? (Maria Monica Wihardja, 2012).  These are very important and pertinent questions to ask indeed.  However, in this presentation, our focus will be on the role of higher education as this sector influences and drives dynamism in the Asian region in the new era. Put simply, what is the role of higher education in this Asia’s new era and how it should interact with the global higher education system?

In so far as global higher education is concerned, we can find that there are basically 11 strategic challenges to higher education:

Strategic Challenge 1: Removing Boundaries

Colleges and universities are facing the challenge of removing the boundaries between higher education institutions and their external publics while at the same time protecting the fundamental values and traditions associated with free academic inquiry, independent of thought, and rights and responsibilities of the faculty. College and universities must change their public image, from that of the protective ivory tower to one of a networked, communication-rich, and much more accessible environment. It is important to acknowledge the fact that international student mobility has over the past 10-15 years become an increasingly important part of the global higher education system (Verbik and Lasanowski, 2007).  This is also true in the case of mobility of talent between Asia and the USA/ Europe (Morshidi, 2011).

Strategic Challenge 2:  Establishing Interdisciplinary Programs

Sir Douglas Hague has noted that society has problems whereas colleges and universities have departments and that the two very often do not match well. He and many others call for institutions to provide better linkages between problems and disciplines and for academic departments to reformat and reorganize courses, programs, and structures to respond to increasingly sophisticated and market-knowledgeable students.

Strategic Challenge 3: Supporting Entrepreneurial Efforts and Technology

Even with the power and capacity of currently available communications technologies such as the World Wide Web and the Internet, adapting and integrating these technologies with existing institutional and departmental strategies and initiatives have not been a priority in many institutions.

Strategic Challenge 4: Redesigning and Personalizing Student Support Services

College and university leaders are increasingly recognizing that to regain public support and participation, institutions will need to become more focused on customizing programs to serve students where they are—physically, economically, and academically. As this process occurs, student support services such as admissions, advising, registration, and placement are being redesigned to be delivered flexibly, through multiple pathways increasingly initiated and controlled by the student.

Strategic Challenge 5: Emphasizing Connected and Lifelong Learning

Institutions are focusing more directly on helping students to develop the skills necessary to be successful in today's economy, which values and rewards the ability to work in teams, to develop creative approaches to problem-solving, and to learn constantly.

Strategic Challenge 6: Investing in Technologically Competent Faculty

Investing in technologically competent faculty is a daunting task as it takes time and efforts to train staff so that they are updated with relevant technology.

Strategic Challenge 7:  Building Strategic Alliances with Others

Over the past decade, higher education institutions of all types have built expanded alliances with each other and with the corporate sector. This effort has to be amplified further, in view of the proven idea there are strengths to be found in the alliances. 

Strategic Challenge 8: Incorporating Learning Technologies into Strategic Thinking

Higher education institutions will need to integrate learning technologies into their strategic planning and their setting of institutional priorities just as they currently integrate the planning of facilities, administrative processes, library support, and student services. 

Strategic Challenge 9: Measuring Program Quality

Educational programs are being measured more and more often based on outcomes that matter to students and employers rather than on inputs that matter to faculty and administrators.

Strategic Challenge 10: Achieving Institutional Advantage

For some colleges and universities, the new digital environment suggests focusing resources on just a few unique or particularly outstanding programs and delivering them globally.

Strategic Challenge 11: Transforming Bureaucracy, Culture, and Assumptions

In what may be the most difficult challenge of all, higher education institutions are being forced to transform decision-making processes and to radically change past operating assumption.

Asia will continue to prosper with its high economic growth and human capital development in years to come. Indeed, access to a wide range of quality higher services will be critical to sustainable growth on the development pathway for Asia in the new era (Yojana Sharma, 2012). Advocating Asia’s New Era to remain relevant and sustainable for the future generation and beyond, Asia’s higher education sector must continuously innovate and push its boundary based on excellence. In this context, most countries in Asia have realized the need to look to the future and build their societies based on people, innovation and knowledge (Asia Europe Higher Education Platform, 2012).

In doing so, Asia’s New Era in the Higher Education will be respected and referred by the international communities as the region of higher education excellence and the knowledge hub centre. Thus Asia’s New Era will move on the premise of 3R (Relevant, Respected and Referred).  With the driving force of 3R, it is envisaged that Asia will:

i) Become a Globally-respected Nation;
ii) Have a competent workforce of high integrity;
iii) Become an economic power house;
iv) Lead in innovation, creativity and knowledge creation; and
v) Pioneer in knowledge development and growth

If higher education is to become the driver for Asia’s New Era, we must look closely at critical success factors, as they will determine the accomplishment of the outcome:

i) First class mindset;
ii) Innovative culture;
iii) Unity;
iv) Seamless government;
v) High-performing human capital; and
vi) International recognition

Some of the important action plan toward realization of Asia’s New Era include:

i. Providing a wider access and opportunity for international students to participate in higher education in the Asian countries.

ii. Recruiting the  best faculty member among the internationally renowned researchers and lecturers worldwide for universities in Asia;

iii. Developing the Asian Higher Education Icon through strategic and high impact programmes for example Nobel Laureate, Global Volunteerism and Leadership programmes

iv. Promoting high quality and reliable consultancy services.

v. Promoting intra-Asian Transnational Education  

vi. Capitalising foreign university branch campuses in Asian countries for a greater knowledge transfer and capacity building.

vii. Increasing the number of students and faculty mobility among universities within the Asian region and beyond for enrichment especially through credit transfer, global volunteerism and cultural exchange programmes.
viii. Promoting Asian education through competitive branding such as diversity of culture and hospitality,  conducive teaching and  learning environment, affordable and quality education;
ix. Enhancing international and regional smart partnership in higher education sector through network of networks by applying the concept of Strategise, Energise and Synergised (S.E.S)

In the new Asia era of higher education, human capital development should continue to be given priority by enhancing skills and learning, and instilling noble values. This effort will help Asia achieve the 3R status. Efforts should be instituted to internationalise higher education or cross boundary education so as to increase global competitiveness and attract more international students among Asian countries. In addition, cooperation among countries and international organisations should be encouraged through the exchange of academic staff, students and learning programmes. This will narrow the education gap, reduce brain drain and forge international cooperation. 

In today’s globalised world, the need for a country’s economy that is built on knowledge and innovation and which makes good use of human resources is widely recognized. But while it is true that globalization can be seen as a multitude of opportunities, it also creates a number of challenges. In the age of globalization, nothing will contribute more to our economic success in the future than education and knowledge.  Developing our comparative advantage in high-value added activities requires a dynamic framework where innovation and R&D, fostered by excellent education systems, can spur productivity and job creation.

But enhancing human capital is not just beneficial for economic growth and competitiveness.  Better educated and skilled people are more likely to find their place in the new international division of labour and have a greater capacity to adjust to the challenges of globalisation and technological advances.  Increased investment in human capital does not necessarily imply a rise in public budget for education and training. In light of budgetary constraints, we have to use the resources available in the most efficient and effective way. In this highly competitive environment, we must be aware with the constant changes revolving around us and be able to adopt, adapt and develop the best practices to be at par with the world best higher education providers. 

The higher education sector in Asia can play a leading role in producing competent and qualified human capital with first class mentality to meet an ever increasing global demand to continuously improve and innovate for the country growth. The higher education sector will always play a major role in Asian countries’ nation-building and has been a source of competitive strength for countries. Therefore, all strategies, plans, programmes and policies of Asia should be directed towards enhancing its human capital for the respective countries in line with their national mission and vision while synergizing and fulfilling the Asia’s New Era developmental goals.

东南亚教育部长组织秘书长维塔亚·吉拉德查昆先生主论坛演讲
斯里兰卡教育部副部长索伊萨先生主论坛演讲    
 























 

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