Zhang Xiuqin, director general of the Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges in China’s Ministry of Education, said the objective would be a “catalyst for universities to improve their programmes and add diversity to campuses”. She also encouraged the more than 1,300 delegates at APAIE to “seize the opportunity to increase collaboration in the Asia Pacific region”.
“Asia is already the leader in terms of numbers, but in 20 years will it be the leader in quality?”
Zhang’s call to arms for stakeholders operating and recruiting in the region reflected the four-day conference’s tone: one of adapting to meet the changing standards and expectations of HE in what Australia has coined “the Asian century”.
East met West in seminars hosted by institutions from both sides of the globe. Topics ranged from inexpensive ways to internationalise a university and the ethics of mobility, to measuring international initiatives at universities in Catalonia, Spain, and Japan and best practice in international partnerships.
Zhang’s presence as a high ranking Chinese official itself reflected the broader regional participation this year. According to APAIE president and associate pro-vice-chancellor of the Chinese University Hong Kong (CUHK), Gordon Cheung, “Last year our vice chancellor promised to bring in more people from mainland China. This year there are 100 participants from mainland China, 100 from Taiwan and 100 from Hong Kong, which is great.”
Key themes emerged around globalisation, the growth of the middle class, partnerships and summer programmes, all with an eye on Asia’s growing presence on the world stage. Hans-Georg van Liempd, president of the European Association for International Education (EAIE) admitted that Europeans lacked a strategy toward Asia and that collaborators “must look at the differences within the region in order to fully understand”.
Meanwhile, Donna Scarboro, president of the US-based Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA) noted the undeniable impact Asian universities would have, but asked how secondary and primary education would adjust to produce students who could compete on those levels.
Concluding the conference, the “Global Dialogue” session brought together prominent leaders of international education associations from five continents to discuss their perspectives on MOOCs, the rise of Asia in international education, competition verses cooperation and the role of universities to find solutions to geopolitical problems.
Wrapping up the discussion and the conference Gordon Chueng asked: “Asia is already the leader in terms of numbers, but in 20 years will it be the leader in quality?”