1 December 2022

The first ever joint ASEAN Regional Consultation on Digital Transformation of Higher Education by UNESCO-ICHEI & AUN

AUN Writer Team

By Benyasiri Eimviriyapong & Chanya Chinsukserm, AUN Programme Officer

On 29 November 2022, the UNESCO-ICHEI Regional Consultation Meeting – Southeast Asia was organised by International Centre for Higher Education Innovation under the auspices of UNESCO (UNESCO-ICHEI) in collaboration with the ASEAN University Network (AUN). The Meeting was held under the significant theme of ‘Supporting University Teachers for the Digitally Transformed Future.’ 

In the age of digital transformation, the higher education sector has faced challenges in trying to keep up with changes in a world that is becoming more complex and uncertain due to globalisation and technological advancement. Through systematic support of digital technology applications, it is possible to achieve greater comparability and recognition of qualifications, enable credit transfer by aligning shared curriculum as well as resources, and build regional professional development networks. Thus, in the context of the Digital Transformation of Higher Education, the consultation at the Meeting focused on two key perspectives: the university alliance and the professional development of university teachers.  

This successful consultation helped to spearhead the initiatives following the Roadmap on ASEAN Higher Education Space 2025, as introduced by the ASEAN Secretariat. The implementation plan takes a whole-of-ASEAN Community approach to the development of an ASEAN Higher Education Space; it contributes to improved inclusiveness in higher education, augmented employability and competitiveness, and the acquisition of demand-driven competencies and qualifications. This roadmap envisions a resilient and sustainable ASEAN higher education space that allows for greater harmonisation and internationalisation of ASEAN higher education, particularly in terms of enhancing people-to-people connectivity and supporting ASEAN community building, resulting in the outcome of enhancing regional capacity in higher education.

The invited experts identified related policies and impacts on universities’ new normal adoption, readiness, and actions, as well as essential competencies for digital teaching. Many called attention to the necessary conditions that are necessary for digital transformation to occur in the first place, such as material conditions and human resources. The consultation effectively connected evidence from each perspective to comprehend the status quo and determine the present stage of growth for universities in the ASEAN region. 

Collaboration is key. ASEAN is extremely dynamic, and so are our higher education institutions; universities are equipped with different levels of infrastructure, support, and resources. This shared platform, where ICHEI provides material support for the necessary conditions to achieve digital transformation while drawing upon the capacity of networks such as AUN ensures that the resources are effectively distributed across the entire region, with no one left behind. Experts all across ASEAN call for the necessity of providing the right atmosphere for a good learning environment to ensure students are interactive and engaging to achieve a truly successful digital transformation of the 21st century.