BANGKOK, 1 December 2017 – Members of the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Education (SOM-ED), representatives of Japan and presidents of leading engineering education universities in ASEAN and Japan gathered in Bangkok today to sign the cooperative framework agreement for the Fourth Phase of the ASEAN University Network/Southeast Asia Engineering Education Development Network (AUN/SEED-Net).

“The AUN/SEED-Net plays a pivotal role in strengthening engineering education in the region through its scholarship scheme that produces scholars with applied knowledge and hands-on experience in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). I am genuinely confident that ASEAN will benefit from Japan’s expertise on these fields and through the network,” said Datuk Dr. Amin Senin, Director General of Education, Ministry of Education Malaysia and Chair of ASEAN SOM-ED during the signing ceremony.

The ceremony marked the new page of engineering higher education collaboration in the ASEAN region where 40 participating universities pledged to continue to work together to develop human resource in the engineering field through the fourth phase of the project in the next five years beginning in 2018 until 2023. This is achieved in cooperation with the industry sector in ASEAN and Japan, and supports the socio-economic development goals of ASEAN and in building the ASEAN Community.

The signing ceremony followed the convening of the 12th SOM-ED in Bangkok on 31 November and 1 December which discussed, among others, the progress of the AUN/SEEED-Net and the planned implementation of the a new phase of the project.

The AUN/SEED-Net was established in 2001 and resulted from the ASEAN – Japan Summit as a framework toward sustainable development after the economic crisis that struck the Asian region at that time. Initially starting with 19 ASEAN engineering institutions and 11 supporting Japanese universities, the network has expanded and now comprises 26 leading engineering institutions from ASEAN and 14 supporting universities in Japan.  These top engineering universities cooperate in joint supervision of AUN/SEED-Net scholars at post-graduate level, collaborative research projects, programme development, knowledge exchange and technology transfer.

Over the years, the AUN/SEED-Net Project has provided scholarships to 1,400 students and young teaching staff to study in master’s and doctoral levels to strengthen their faculty qualifications and academic capacities.  About 1,000 have graduated from ASEAN countries as well as Japan. Most alumni returned to their home countries as academic staff and continuing to educate and develop lecturers and professionals in engineering to make them more qualified to support sustainable development of the member countries through excellent engineering education, research and networking.

The Project has also produced more than 200 collaborative research programmes between the ASEAN member institutions and Japanese supporting universities with approximately 1,000 scholars joining the regional conferences to address and discuss common regional issues each year resulting in having more than 200 papers published in various ASEAN engineering journals.  The strategy of AUN/SEED-Net in assigning a number of universities as regional hubs to train students and young staff of other universities has become a good example adopted by other academic networks in the region.

The launch of the fourth phase of the project and the signing of a new cooperative framework is seen as a significant milestone for the AUN/SEED-Net Network since its inauguration 16 years ago. The new cooperative framework includes new features such as identifying new structure and project components that could help tighten connection and partnership among ASEAN and Japan within the network as well as the industry for sustainability in the long run.

For the next five years, the AUN/SEED-Net would continue to focus on advancement of the industry sector in the ASEAN region through promotion of university-industry collaborative activities in engineering education.  Common pressing and emerging issues in the field would be identified and addressed through collaborative research and conferences. Most importantly, the network would continue the production of highly-qualified faculty staff through academic mobility in the region and with Japan supported by establishment of alumni associations in each AMS.