3 May 2024

The 11th ASEAN+3 Heads of International Relations Meeting Deepens Higher Education Cooperation in Fostering Sustainable Growth and Solidarity Across the Region

By
Benyasiri Eimviriyapong
AUN Programme Officer;

In facing the turbulent times of the coming century, humankind ought to realise its nature of being a community with a shared future. When countries embrace cooperation and act in concert with the spirit of sustainability, inclusiveness, and mutual learning and benefit, the success of major initiatives that benefit all is guaranteed. Universities, as the material and social foundation of society, ought to be keenly aware of our responsibility for history, for the people and for the world.

The 11th ASEAN+3 Heads of International Relations Meeting (IRO+3), from 24-25 April 2024, was organised on the theme “Accelerating Sustainable and Inclusive Growth through Strengthened Collaboration and Solidarity between Universities in ASEAN and Beyond” and hosted by Xiamen University (XMU). Highlighting the spirit of openness and inclusivity, the ASEAN+3 University Network (ASEAN+3 UNet) community enjoys the fruits of the long and continued collaboration among the region while vowing to work even harder to bring about more material development and broader international cooperation in higher education to build a community of a shared future. With 40 universities and over 70 participants across the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) region in attendance, the 11th IRO+3 Meeting also had the prestigious opportunity to host over 30 connections of University Bilateral Meeting, connecting the top universities of each country with one another for a highly effective collaboration and initiative.

IRO_Pic 1-min.jpeg

During the opening ceremony on 24 April 2024, Professor Zhang Zongyi, the President of Xiamen University, noted that since its founding, XMU has maintained strong connections with Southeast Asia. With the thorough implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, Xiamen city will play an even more important role as a strategic pivotal city. Thus, XMU is bound to develop even closer ties with the international higher education community, leading to more in-depth collaboration and greater prospects. Connected by shared mountains and rivers, ASEAN countries, China, Japan and South Korea (APT) are building a shared future with the AUN as the core driver for high-level exchanges as well as positively contributing to the integration of higher education and regional social and economic development. 

IRO_Pic 2-min.jpeg

Dr. Choltis Dhirathiti, AUN Executive Director, echoed a similar sentiment and devotion. He highlighted the existing structure of AUN such as the AUN Thematic Networks and student platforms as the main driver of frontline collaborative activities. Meanwhile, the first ever concurrent AUN-Summer Camp is set to be held this year in 9 locations among 7 ASEAN countries and 2000 students. Through these means, AUN is maximising the capability of universities and networks to foster the next generation of talents and contribute positively to the ASEAN community and the global economic value chains.

  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide

 

Following the opening ceremony, Professor Bie Dunrong, Dean of Education Research Institute of XMU,  and Professor Li Cheng, the Deputy Director of the Academic Affairs office,  delivered insightful and thought provoking keynote speeches respectively. They shared the development of China’s higher education, the comparison of higher education between China and ASEAN countries, and the prospect of China-ASEAN higher education cooperation, and the practice and achievements of XMU in innovation and entrepreneurship education. The sharing of knowledge among the ASEAN+3 UNet has proven to provide inexhaustible impetus for the high-quality and sustainable development of the economy and society to the region as well as the whole world.

  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide

 

The main session of the meeting was dedicated to maximising opportunities of the network and producing concrete results of international cooperation. The breakout sharing and discussion session explored the potential for universities to play a pivotal role in driving positive change, fostering collaboration, and promoting sustainable development in the ASEAN region and beyond. Discussions surrounded key themes, strategies, and initiatives that can enhance collaboration among universities and contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth. The ASEAN+3 UNet shared their experiences and good practices while making use of their lessons to discuss: (i) strengthening collaboration between universities, stakeholders, and partnerships, (ii) leveraging technology and innovation for sustainable development, and (iii) promoting social and environmental responsibility in universities. In conclusion of the dialogue during the Meeting’s breakout sharing and discussion session, among the key outcomes of the meeting was collectively expressed interest by the universities for a centralised ASEAN platform which promotes regional sustainability development.

  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide

 

The meeting also provided a unique opportunity to tour both campuses of XMU, Siming and Xiang’an, emphasising the potential of international exchange and mobility activities. Nested between the lush green mountains and surrounding a clear sky-blue lake, the participants enjoyed the beautiful views and the various facilities XMU has provided for their students and the capability of knowledge and resource sharing for the entire region. Participants also had a personal tour to the College of Ocean and Earth Sciences and the School of Public Health, and their respective state key labs. Finally, they visited XMU’s Institute for Advanced Study in Humanities and Arts at the World Cultural Heritage Gulangyu Island. 

The AUN Secretariat would like to extend its highest appreciation to XMU and the university’s organising team for hosting of the 11th IRO+3 Meeting. The university’s professionalism, expertise and hospitality greatly contributed to the success of the meeting in advocating cross-regional university collaboration for a community of a shared future of inclusive and sustainable growth of our society. The meeting’s fruitful discussions, knowledge exchange and networking provided a new opportunity for ASEAN+3 UNet to further explore new regional initiatives in which higher education exchange and cooperation take the central roles in driving forward regional sustainable development, harmony and solidarity.