17 November 2023

AUN-ICT Workshop Returned for Deepened Discussion on Quality Standardisation of University's ICT System and Management

AUN Writer Team

By Alistair Yap Yiow Zhoong, AUN Intern

On 7-8 November 2023, the workshop on the Quality Standardization of University's ICT System and Management (AUN-ICT) was held at Novotel Bangkok Platinum Pratunam, Thailand. Co-hosted by Prince of Songkla University (PSU), the Institute of Software Engineering and Quality Management (ISEM), and the ASEAN University Network (AUN) Secretariat, the event strengthened upon the discussions of the first meeting in Phuket earlier this year.  66 participants from 25 universities across 9 ASEAN countries, comprising ICT experts, academics, and professionals working in ICT quality and work management, attended this regional effort to develop a world-class ICT quality and management standards that are specifically compatible for universities.

The event began with an opening session. Asst. Prof. Dr. Thakerng Wongsirichot, Vice President for Academic and International Affairs at Prince of Songkla University, who opened the floor with his opening speech, introduced the workshop as a continuation of the work on the comprehensive standardisation of ASEAN universities’ ICT system and management, resulting from the first iteration of the workshop in Phuket, Thailand. The results from the latest workshop are geared to be adjustable for implementation under different contexts and circumstances across the ASEAN region. In this regard, Asst. Prof. Dr. Thakerng expressed his gratitude to AUN and ISEM for their full support of this joint regional effort for ICT standardisation among ASEAN universities.

Next, ASEAN University Network (AUN) Execute Director, Dr. Choltis Dhirathiti took to the stage and, in his opening speech, congratulated all parties involved for having come up with a system of standardisation for ICT which can be used as a model for over 7000 universities in the ASEAN region. This AUN-ICT model was introduced and initiated by PSU, in collaboration with ISEM and AUN to be one of the enablers, working in harmony to promote different areas of the region’s higher education, including, but not limited to: quality assurance at the institutional level, higher education qualification reform (CALOHEA), regional English language capabilities and the Internal Quality Assurance (IQA). Such initiatives facilitate how universities adapt to the new world of work, technology, and changing attitudes among populations in Southeast Asia and beyond. AUN is also driving forward research and development programmes through AUN Thematic Networks. Lastly, In terms of student and academic programmes, AUN is spearheading new and authentic initiatives to promote student mobility and exchange, highlighting the upcoming AUN Summer Camp programme as an example.

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    Asst. Prof. Dr. Thakerng Wongsirichot
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    Dr. Choltis Dhirathiti
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    Photo session with the workshop participants


Keynote Presentation by PSU

The opening ceremony was followed by the keynote presentation on the Quality Standardization in University’s ICT System and Management (AUN-ICT) by the Prince of Songkla University. In this presentation, the PSU team first provided workshop participants with some key information regarding the necessity for a new set of ICT standards that are of global quality and tailored specifically for implementation in the context of higher education and ASEAN.

As the world is driving forward into the digital era, concerns in Digital Education, management and security require much consideration. However, existing global standards According to PSU, while there are other global standards available such as ISO 9001, CMMI, ISO/IEC 27001, ISO/IEC 29110 (VSE) etc., each has its pros and cons and were not specifically designed for implementation in the context of higher education, requiring universities and higher education institutions (HEIs) to carefully select practices and tools that are applicable from these modules.

Such is why an Integrated Quality Management System for ICT in universities is necessary. The reasons are that, first, it covers necessary standard processes, and that provides cost and time saving towards the priorities of Digital Education, Digital Management and Services, and Digital Cyber Security.

In this connection, the AUN-ICT framework is geared to become an all-in-one integrated framework that covers necessary standard processes. It provides cost savings with lower complexity, yet aligns with other established ICT global standards. Its components (standard categories) include Project Governance (PG), Product Development (PD), Service Management (SM), Information Security Management (IM), and Organisational Management (OM). Each category comes with its own Process Descriptions (PDs) for universities to fulfil via certain practices and sub-practices. This framework comes with its own assessment model with its criteria is based on a Maturity Level (ML) modular model, from low to high, starting from “Initial” to “ML1” to “ML2” and finally to “ML3”. To qualify for a base “Initial” certification, universities have to fulfil the Organisational Management Category (consisting of 4 processes) plus at least 1 other Category (with its required processes).

Interactive Panel Discussion on AUN-ICT

Following the keynote presentation, the workshop saw panellists coming together for the Interactive Feedback Session. The panel included:

  • Asst. Prof. Dr. Thatchavee Leetawat (Vice President Information Technology, Kanchanaburi Campus, Mahidol University), 
  • Fivien Nur SAVITRI, s.t., m.t. (Chief Information Officer, Institut Teknologi Bandung), 
  • Dr. Vorasuang Duangchinda (Director, Office of Online Education, Sripatum University and Special Advisor to the AUN Executive Director), 
  • Ms. Tan Shui-Min (Chief Information Technology Officer, National University of Singapore) 
  • and Dr. Tachanun Kangwantrakool (Founder/CEO, Institute of Software Engineering Improvement and Quality Management (ISEM).

This session was moderated by Dr. Prachya Boonkwan, Researcher, Human Computer Communication Research Unit (HCCRU).

(From the left) Asst. Prof. Dr. Thatchavee Leetawat, Ms. Tan Shui-Min, Fivien Nur SAVITRI, s.t., m.t., Dr. Vorasuang Duangchinda, Dr. Tachanun Kangwantrakool (Panellists) and Dr. Prachya Boonkwan (Moderator)
(From the left) Asst. Prof. Dr. Thatchavee Leetawat, Ms. Tan Shui-Min, Fivien Nur SAVITRI, s.t., m.t., Dr. Vorasuang Duangchinda, Dr. Tachanun Kangwantrakool (Panellists) and Dr. Prachya Boonkwan (Moderator)

Based on their continued involvement in the AUN-ICT initiative and observation of the presentation by PSU, the panellists, in their interactive engagement with one another as well as the floor participants, provided valuable feedback, impressions and suggestions on the current version of the developing AUN-ICT model.

First, it goes without saying that universities want to deliver a quality education system for their students. The panellists generally appreciated that the framework is a comprehensive and integrated standard rather than something that just focuses on one domain individually. However, training staff, having the right people with the right competencies, having the right technologies, are required for the processes and implementations to be successful. There is also a lack of standardisation in terms of data-sharing among the universities as there is no standard student data model. In the long-run, this framework can provide a common language to facilitate potential data-sharing. Other identified opportunities include the platform for networking to facilitate the sharing of best practices and problem-solving.

Apart from seeing the framework’s potential, the panel also voiced their opinions regarding the challenges ahead which the AUN-ICT team may need to consider. Such challenges include framework adoption (perhaps especially in persuading business stakeholders to come on board), constant monitoring and documentation efforts towards maintaining the certifications, limited resources and manpower. There is also the need to optimise resources in an economical way. Lastly,  it is vital for the AUN-ICT framework to stay relevant to the shifting landscapes of data security, data ethics, and new disruptive technologies such as the fast-evolving multi-modal generative AI tools.

Lastly, the panel also raised several suggestions which can positively bolster the development of the framework. The advice includes tapping on academic faculty who are specialised in certain aspects of ICT, exploring options to increase international visibility, communicating with higher management to incentivize staff, improving engagement with IT personnel towards higher motivation, convincing stakeholders that the new system will make things easier in the long-run, being selective and taking one step at a time in terms of adopting and implementing the framework at a university level, and sharing success stories and fostering collective empowerment.

Breakout Sessions and Group Discussion

Following a luncheon, the rest of Day 1 of the workshop was dedicated to the breakout workshop session. In this regard, participants are divided into four groups, led by PSU moderators as well as group leaders who are ICT experts from universities across the ASEAN region, in the effort of introducing each AUN-ICT category to garner feedback and impressions arising from each group discussion.

The morning Day 2 proceeded in the same fashion with the participants being back in their assigned groups for another breakout workshop session, this time with the emphasis on Cross-Categories Standard Alignment. In the afternoon, a Strategic Group Discussion session moderated by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sinchai Kamolphiwong (Director, Office of Digital Innovation and Intelligent Systems), brought together the group leaders and 4 panellists to share their invaluable insights from the morning discussions, about the framework and the road ahead.

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    Group 1
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    Group 2
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    Group 3
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    Group 4
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Group Leader Presentation & Panel Discussion

The culmination of this workshop was the final presentation session by leaders from each breakout group. This session served as a great opportunity for both the workshop participants and the PSU team behind the development of the AUN-ICT framework to hear consolidated thoughts, feedback and ideas rising from each group discussion.

The 4 panellists for this session were group leaders from the breakout sessions, namely:

  • Mr. Ang Leong Boon (Head of IT Security, National University of Singapore), 
  • Co, Brian Ong (Assistant Director, Information Technology Services Office, De La Salle University), 
  • Ady Wahyudi Paundu (Director for the Directorate of Information System and Digital Transformation, Universitas Hasanuddin), and
  • Prof. Johannes Camasura (University Director for Automation, Innovation and Computing, Cebu Technological University).

The panel discussed several topics arising from the discussion, related to the promotion of ICT standardisation in general and the implementability of AUN-ICT especially at its current state. The collective concerns raised by each group included the onboarding challenges posed by universities’ top management and limited IT manpower and readiness, university-industry ICT connectivity in terms of standards, as well as the need for current AUN-ICT process descriptions to be subjected for further refinement and streamlining.

In terms of suggestions, the panel and the floor urged for the team behind AUN-ICT to consider flexible adoption of the framework per the needs of each university. Highlighting the scope of cybersecurity, a checklist should be established to help define and differentiate cyber incidents from cybersecurity incidents to avoid misreporting of faults due to human errors. Touching upon the matter of administrative arrangements between the initiative and participating universities, a clearer breakdown of the potential costs involved in the assessment and implementations will help universities with the onboarding and preparation. Lastly, considering that this framework could potentially be improved and updated over time as we navigate this novel system for the first time such as in AUN Quality Assurance (AUN-QA) currently being in its fourth version.

All in all, participants appreciated the comprehensive standards and left feeling heartened and optimistic about the prospects of having a standardised AUN-ICT framework in place. While there are still areas for refinement, participants recognised the purpose and value of such a framework and they look forward to seeing how it will progress. In particular, they appreciate the “social support” networking system that this platform offers, because even though they come from different universities, they face common challenges and can benefit from sharing best practices and consulting with each other.

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    Presentations and Panel Discussion by Group Leaders, moderated by Assoc.Prof. Dr. Sinchai Kamolphiwong (far right)
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The workshop on the Quality Standardization of University's ICT System and Management (AUN-ICT) successfully concluded with the team from PSU presenting the summary of feedback and readiness of participating universities, most of which were positive with quite some room for further improvement, especially when it comes accessibility and adaptability of the framework to ASEAN universities. The results from the fruitful discussion throughout this iteration of the AUN-ICT Workshop has contributed greatly to further development and revision of the AUN-ICT booklet draft.

The AUN Secretariat would like use this opportunity to congratulate our partners in PSU, ISEM, as well as all the workshop participants representing universities from across the ASEAN region for their valuable time, knowledge, and hard work in contribution to the development of AUN-ICT as a new world-class standards tailored for the promotion of ICT quality and management in universities.

For more information about AUN-ICT, please visit the AUN-ICT Facebook page at https://m.facebook.com/AUNICT/ 

For more news and information regarding AUN programmes in promoting ICT capabilities, please refer to the following list: