22 June 2022

AUN Executive Director delivered his remark on the role of alumni network in the future of Higher Education at SHARE ASEAN-EU Exchange Students and Alumni Summit

AUN Writer Team

By Tan Sodalin, AUN Intern

Dr. Choltis Dhirathiti, the ASEAN University Network (AUN) Executive Director, was invited as a speaker to join SHARE ASEAN-EU Exchange Students and Alumni Summit under the theme “Youth and Digital Connectivity” organized by European Union Support to Higher Education in the ASEAN Region (SHARE) via Zoom, on 28 May 2022.

The European Union Support to Higher Education in the ASEAN Region (SHARE) is the European Union’s flagship higher education program with ASEAN comprising the British Council, the DAAD, ENQA, and Nuffic. To celebrate 45 years of ASEAN and the EU cooperation, the SHARE program is holding two ASEAN-EU exchange students and alumni summits, one of which was held in May 2022 under the theme of “ASEAN-EU Youth and Digital Connectivity” aiming to provide a space for dialogue and discussion on ways that ASEAN and EU students and exchange alumni can contribute to the development of cooperation between their regions and strengthen ASEAN-EU relations regarding higher education internationalization. In session 2 of the summit was moderated by Ms. Mutiara Indriani, the Research Grant Head & lecturer at Bina Nusantara University in Jakarta, and joined by four speakers from four different organizations, including Erasmus Student Network, GaragErasmus, ASEAN Foundation, and the ASEAN University Network (AUN) represented by Dr. Colitis Dhirathiti. The speakers engaged in a discussion under the topic  “The role of alumni network in the future of Higher Education''.

Starting by highlighting the crucial role the AUN has always been playing in promoting the cooperation among universities from both Member States and Non-Member States of the ASEAN region, Dr. Choltis mentioned that the AUN is an implementation organ for ASEAN higher education sector, piloting many cross-border collaborative projects and activities. As a result, AUN has many groups of alumni that can be classed into three categories:

  • Firstly, the alumni of student forums which serve as a platform for discussions on various topics namely the public affairs, cultural exhibitions showcasing artistic talents, and student leader forums which bring together student leaders from member universities to discuss and train their leadership capacity.
  • Secondly, the alumni of the projects and activities related to short-term study-trip and experiential learning programs and volunteer programs. The examples include the Winter School Program at Kyoto University, the Japan-ASEAN Cultural Exchange Program which provided a short-study trip for students from universities in Japan and ASEAN Member States, and the one-week AUN Experiential Learning Program which in the participants get to stay and learn from the ways of life in local communities in ASEAN countries.
  • Thirdly, the alumni of the scholarship program. AUN has provided numerous scholarships for students, including students with disability, to study in China, Korea, Japan, and also at universities across the ASEAN countries. All of the activities listed above involve at one time in one location many students from many countries from ASEAN and the plus three, Japan, Korea, and China.

According to the AUN Executive Director, the definition of alumni is a personal relationship based on trust that only can come from togetherness experiences meaning that we have to be together in person to create alumni. Despite the advancement of information technology, we cannot have alumni by only gathering online. He stressed that in-person contact is fundamental for alumni. In his last remark, he added that he read somewhere a long time ago a study stating that intercultural competencies or cultural experiences cannot be formed unless we have experienced cultures of other countries for more than two weeks. So, he greatly appreciates the SHARE program for providing more than 500 scholarships to ASEAN students.

Dr. Choltis concluded by answering the question “What is the role of alumni network in the future of Higher Education?”. The alumni are more than the future of higher education, they would be the future peace of the world. By gathering together, we are creating some kind of strength and with help of information technology, our network will be stronger and will be a part of the prevention measure that leads us away from the experience that we observe in Ukraine.