LUANG PRABANG, 23 May 2019 – The ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF) Committee completed its review and endorsed the referencing reports submitted by Malaysia and the Philippines at its Sixth AQRF Meeting held on 21-23 May 2019 in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. The referencing reports from Malaysia and the Philippines are the first among AMS that meet all AQRF referencing criteria and will soon be publicly available.
The AQRF is a common regional reference framework that enables the comparison of education qualifications across the ASEAN Member States (AMS), covering all education and training sectors. It is underpinned by quality assurance principles and standards, and therefore, the referencing process would require countries to review their national quality assurance systems against the regional agreed principles and standards in order to deliver trust in the referencing outcomes. The AQRF was endorsed by ASEAN Economic Ministers and ASEAN Education Ministers in 2014 and by ASEAN Labour Ministers in the following year.
Ms Maria Cynthia Bautista, Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of the Philippines added: “The endorsement of the Report to the ASEAN Economic, Education and Labour Ministers is a major milestone for the implementation of the Philippine Qualifications Framework and for engendering trust in Philippine qualifications within and outside the ASEAN Region. For the Philippine Team, the journey of iteratively revising the Philippine Referencing Report to the AQRF in response to comments from the ASEAN Member States and international experts provided a rare opportunity to collectively reflect and arrive at a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the country’s education and training system”.
Professor Hazman Shah Vijaya, Quality Assurance Specialist, Malaysian Qualifications Agency added that “the referencing is yet another milestone in developing regional connectivity of Malaysian higher education. It is a significant step towards fulfilling the aspirations of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Quality Assurance of Higher Education”.
The endorsement of referencing reports by the AQRF Committee is the successful outcome of an iterative and collaborative process of peer review and improvement by the Committee members and the national bodies of the referencing countries. Ms Megawati Santoso, Chairperson of the AQRF Committee for 2019-2020 stated that “The 6th AQRF Committee Meeting has achieved a significant milestone with the endorsement of Malaysia and Philippines’ referencing reports. In the long run, this referencing process is expected to flourish mutual trust among AMS, which can drive mobility of skills in ASEAN region”.
This AQRF Committee meeting with 60 participants from education, labour and trade sectors also undertook a review of the full referencing report from Thailand and two partial referencing reports from Indonesia and Viet Nam, the process which will be continued in the subsequent meetings. In his opening remark for this Meeting, Associate Professor Dr Sisamone Sithirajvongsa, Director General of External Relations Department, Ministry of Education and Sports of Lao PDR congratulated Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand for pioneering in referencing their national qualifications system against the AQRF full criteria and acknowledged the work of the AQRF Committee in the referencing process which has been instrumental in supporting ASEAN to develop a qualification system for the region.
“Australia is delighted to be a part of a historic milestone achieved within ASEAN which saw the first two member states – the Philippines and Malaysia – receive the endorsement of their referencing reports. Endorsement represents a significant undertaking by a member state to the intensive process of ‘referencing’. The robustness of the referencing process raises the level of transparency and trust in ASEAN qualifications within the international community, supporting the mobility of ASEAN graduates to pursue study and work opportunities, said Ms Jane Azurin, Acting Director, Multilateral Policy, Department of Education and Training of Australia, providing expertise support to the AQRF Committee in undertaking the referencing process.
The consideration of the Referencing Reports was followed by AQRF Committee’s discussions on various initiatives related to AQRF implementation plans. The Sixth Meeting of the AQRF Committee and the usual technical workshop were organised by the Ministry of Education and Sports of Lao PDR, in coordination with the ASEAN Secretariat, with support from the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) Economic Cooperation Support Program (AECSP) under multiphase project on Referencing National Qualifications Framework to the AQRF.