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Higher education QA in Changing World- Envisioning the future of Asia Pacific
Address by APQN President at Hanoi 7-8 March 2014
I consider myself privileged to deliver this address as APQN President and welcome colleagues at conference organised by APQN and hosted by Foreign Trade University at Hanoi. This conference also coincides with culmination of decennial year of APQN.
APQN's Long March
In 2013, APQN began second phase of history with it's long march towards self sustenance and innovations with announcement of 10 point agenda for next decade in decennial conference held in Taipei. I had challenge and fortune to be at helm of affairs at this crucial period in history of APQN.
Conference in Hanoi on theme of 'Higher education QA in Changing World- Envisioning the future of Asia Pacific', seeks to continue this dialogue and action. Annual conference is being organised as very important service to members providing a sustained platform for exchanges in APQN community. I am glad that over 200 members from about 40 countries would assemble for APQN conference in Hanoi hosted by Foreign Trade University, Vietnam during 7-8 March 2014, which happens to be 10th successive annual conference of APQN without any gap.
I would take this opportunity to share with you about key initiatives rolled out by APQN in tune with decennial agenda such as Asia Pacific quality Register[APQR], Asia Pacific Quality Information Portal- and Consortium with European QA counterparts , etc. I would also appeal the APQN community to respond to our call for project proposals and join our efforts in making APQN more inclusive and relevant to needs of stakeholders.
Low response to project proposals from members despite availability of funds, limited use of information technology for networking, limited in kind contribution resulting into delayed projects and unspent budget in some cases are some of concerns on which we seek to reflect and come out with new strategies.
This is also an occasion to launch new avenues such as QA Publication series, reaching out through Social media and renewed focus on institutional members attracting high quality universities towards APQN.
Some issues for churning-
Higher education QA in Changing World is a vast topic. I would make an attempt to flag some issues that might help debate on Envisioning the future of Asia Pacific with limited perspective of APQN in this broad context.
Internationalisation of higher education and it's quality assurance seem to be key issue for QAAs of sender as well as receiving countries. How does APQN help it's members to be prepared on issue of QA of Cross border higher education?
Globalisation of education on hand and regionalisation or sub-regionalisation of QA bodies is another trend. Can APQN play a role in facilitating dialogue and cooperation to ensure that we benefit by unified strategy among diversified approaches?
Independence of QA bodies in some part of the world versus increased government control on QA bodies on the other is another emerging paradox. Can initiative like Asia pacific Quality Register play some role?
Higher education institutes are moving in rapid pace with arrival of OERs, MOOCs and other flexible forms of learning. Are QA bodies keeping pace with this trend? How does APQN work with QA bodies to build capacity in this challenging scenario?
Variety of Rankings in market on one side and diploma /accreditation mills on other have triggered debates around the globe and shaken the forts of established QA mechanisms and bodies. Can initiatives like Crossroads of Europe and Asia Pacific Quality information portal provide some relief to students and other stakeholders in this market induced confusion?
I am sure many such issues would come up for churning in debates /papers by eminent experts invited for this conference.
Asian Value framework for Quality Assurance- A thought that can unite the greater Asia and Pacific
Asian EQA bodies have faced huge challenge of doing balancing act between old traditions of education with certain value systems as against new forces of higher education internationalisation.
While the world is moving towards diminishing national/territorial boundaries by building regional alliances and networks, creating trade zones, economic blocks to benefit from power of unity, how is it that we are struggling to get the benefit of a great Value called Asia?
The real issue, I think is identity crisis of being Asian. The boundaries of Asia are culturally determined, as there is no clear geographical separation between it and Europe.
Given its size and diversity, the concept of Asia - a name dating back to classical antiquity - may actually have more to do with human geography than physical geography. [Wikipedia]
Today Asia suffers from fragmented identities, conflicts over geographical boundaries and veiled competition to claim the share of being partly Asian...!
What could be the uniting spirit behind our initiatives as QA fraternity in Asia-Pacific, despite huge diversity, several sub-regional identities and geopolitical aspirations?
Is it possible to leverage the strengths of these huge continents which are destined to be together on a wider platform called greater Asia? I think, the need of hour is probably to redefine and rediscover the Asian values in the changing scenario of the world. Can we create a unifying force that will accommodate diverse sub regional aspirations and agenda as part of grater Asian dream?
As collective voice of 50 QA bodies of 40 countries, APQN can act as act as focal point in Asia to evolve regional strategies and agenda in wake of changing world's higher education scenario of HE and QA.
I feel that a thought like Asian Value Framework for Quality Assurance can be this unifier which I propose to present in this conference.
Let the churning on quality and values begin in this modern day conference on Quality Assurance with what Buddha has said sometime 2500 years ago.
“In the sky, there is no distinction
of east and west; people create
distinctions out of their own minds
and then believe them to be true.”
Dr Jagannath Patil
President, Asia Pacific Quality Network