KUALA LUMPUR, 31 October 2016 ASEAN and the Ministry of Higher Education of Malaysia recognised the ASEAN Quality Assurance Network (AQAN) and its role in higher education quality assurance development and practice in ASEAN during the opening of the Fourth Policy Dialogue on the ASEAN-EU Support to Higher Education in ASEAN Region (SHARE) Programme on 26 October. AQAN became an entity associated with ASEAN in August 2016 and will support the work of the ASEAN education sector in the future.

Attended by 160 university officials, quality assurance experts and students, the Fourth SHARE Policy Dialogue focused on the theme “Towards a shared Understanding of Quality Assurance in ASEAN.” The participants discussed quality assurance in higher education as a key component of education harmonisation and promotion of accountability, comparability and visibility towards a credible higher education system in ASEAN.  ASEAN and European experts shared perspectives on quality assurance systems and experiences in plenary and small group workshops.

“As we continue to encourage free movement of goods, services and people in ASEAN, it is imperative to assure that the quality of our higher education is at par with agreed international and regional standards; and that our education systems thrive in a culture of quality and credibility,” said Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

Conference participants acknowledged that mobility of students and graduates within ASEAN requires mutual trust among all countries. It involves confidence in the education systems including the qualifications and competencies of ASEAN students and graduates.  This is possible if AMS discuss, enhance and agree on common and comparable frameworks and standards.

Malaysian Vice Minister for Higher Education, Datuk Mary Yap Kain Ching stressed the important role of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Higher Education which was adopted by the ASEAN Leaders during the 27th ASEAN Summit in November 2015 and upholds quality in the provision of higher education across all ASEAN Member States.

EU Ambassador to ASEAN Francisco Fontan and AQAN President Rear Admiral Wachara Karunyavanij also graced the opening ceremony of the policy dialogue and expressed support to the development of quality higher education in ASEAN.

Highlighting the ASEAN Quality Assurance Framework which was produced by the AQAN, the policy dialogue focused on four key areas that require quality assurance in higher education including internal quality assurance, external quality assurance, standards and processes, and national qualifications framework.  Opportunities and challenges were also discussed and how existing standards and procedures such as the AQAF should be utilised in harmony and to complement quality assurance standards of the ASEAN countries.

The policy dialogue acknowledged the role of the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Education and the ASEAN Secretariat in providing more platforms for advocacy, information sharing and collaboration on quality assurance, facilitating the establishment of clear quality assurance governance and structure.

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