Message from the Convenor
On June 26th, the 36th ASEAN Leaders Summit will be held as a virtual event, convened by the host country Vietnam which is the Chair of ASEAN for 2020. Vietnam has affirmed the need to “maintain ASEAN centrality and ASEAN’s role as the primary driving force in regional architecture”.
The ASEAN-Australia Education Dialogue (AAED) is a contribution to this process via Track 2 Diplomacy between ASEAN and Australia that involves education sector actors. We look forward to strengthening our contribution to regional partnerships. We were delighted to host the first meeting of the AAED Advisory Committee in April to help develop the program for 2020/21 and thank the Committee for their support.
The overarching theme of the last AAED 2019 focused on Implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in Community and Educational Ecosystems. In May 2020, Times Higher Education published the annual Impact Rankings which assess the social and economic impact of universities. This year the University of Auckland once again topped the rankings and was joined in the top 4 places by Australian universities: the University of Sydney, Western Sydney University and La Trobe University. Many other Australian universities performed well as did an increasing number of ASEAN universities.
Looking back over the first tumultuous 6 months of the year, the effective response to managing the COVID-19 pandemic has varied significantly across the 10 ASEAN member countries and the plus 6 Dialogue partners which include Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, India, China and Japan.
Vietnam has been praised both regionally and globally for its immediate and effective pandemic management response and is now focused on safely opening up the country for business. Australia and New Zealand have introduced a successful pandemic management strategy that has “flattened the curve” despite some recent setbacks. There is ongoing discussion about a possible Trans-Tasman “travel bubble” to help stimulate their economies and create jobs. With continuing effective pandemic management and development of a vaccine, there will hopefully be an extended travel zone that connects selected ASEAN countries with Australia and New Zealand.
The global international student sector has suffered a huge downturn in student numbers and many domestic and regional challenges remain. Australian universities, colleges, schools, the ELT sector as well as State and Territory governments across the country and at regional campuses across ASEAN are working to address the ongoing crisis. International students who are still in Australia have suffered financially, socially and emotionally with many unable to pay for their course fees, accommodation and daily living expenses.
Universities and Colleges in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) are looking at a strategy of safely welcoming back an initial trial cohort of international students including from ASEAN. While online course delivery continues to thrive, students planning on international study will still be attracted to an in-country face to face learning experience when the situation stabilises.
The future looks increasingly like it will require the international education sector to seriously rethink online delivery to make it accessible, engaging and effective. Depending on the resources available it may mean working in partnership with Online Program Management specialists.
Next month, AAED will host the first of 3 webinars on Quality Assurance in Online Learning. The first webinar will focus on Higher Education, the second on Vocational Education and Training and the third on English Language Teaching (ELT) and the Schools sector. We look forward to welcoming you to the webinar series and will be in touch with further details.
ASEAN-Australia Education Dialogue (AAED)