SHARE-KMUTT Seminar on Micro-credentials in Thai Higher Education: Opportunities, Challenges, and Outlooks from ASEAN and Europe
The second SHARE National Seminar on QF & QA titled “Micro-credentials in Thai Higher Education: Opportunities, Challenges, and Outlooks from ASEAN and Europe” was held in cooperation with King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) and the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI) as a hybrid event, online and on-site in Bangkok, Thailand. Preparations for the seminar took place online following a kick-off planning meeting with the KMUTT team from the Education Technology Development and Integration Support (ETS) department led by Dr Klangjai Sithitavorn, and staff of the International Relations Office on 30 March 2022. Considering KMUTT’s expertise and advocacy for micro-credentials, KMUTT was deemed the most suitable partner for the 2nd National Seminar.
The seminar took place on 20-21 July 2022 with the on-site seminar taking place at Pullman Bangkok King Power Hotel and featuring a mix of speakers and participants from academia and business/industry. The seminar was opened by Prof. Dr Sampan Rittidech (Secretary General of Higher Education Commission, MHESI) and Ms Francesca Gilli (Attaché - Cooperation, EU Delegation to Thailand). After an introduction to the context of the seminar and to the SHARE Programme by Mr Michael Hörig (SHARE Programme Director for DAAD) and Mr Darren McDermott (SHARE Programme Team Leader), the first session on “Micro-credentials – the Future of Higher Education for Lifelong Learning” which was chaired by Assoc. Prof. Bundit Thipakorn (Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, KMUTT) took place. The session featured Mr Sawit Soothipunt (Client Solutions Executive, IBM Thailand) and Mr Isara Vongkusolkit (Chairman of National Economic Reform Committee & Chairman of Mitr Phol Group, among others) who provided an overall view of Thailand’s corporate perspective of the skill gap, as well as the possibilities of micro-credentials in transforming the recognition of skills and competencies.
The second session focused specifically on the outlook of micro-credentials in Thailand and how collaboration between HEIs and corporate stakeholders in implementing and recognising micro-credentials may leverage the capacity of the workforce. Dr Klangjai Sithitavorn (Assistant to the President for Educational Development & Head of ETS, KMUTT) presented how micro-credentials can transform Higher Education and the possibilities it offers for lifelong learning. The corporate perspective was presented by Ms Naowarat Bumrungchit (Former Senior Vice President, Former Director of Academics for the C.P. Leadership Institute, CP All) and Mr Gittitouch Apisaksirikul (Globish Academia) who elaborated on how micro-credentials would be beneficial for businesses in terms of Human Resources Management/Development, along with its advantages and disadvantages.
The third and fourth sessions focused on (pan-)European perspectives on micro-credentials. Ms Kinga Szuly (Head of Sector, European Commission) presented an overview of the European Approach on Micro-credentials before Ms Magalie Soenen (Policy Advisor – Higher Education, Ministry of Education & Training Flanders, Belgium) provided an update of the Microbol project results, its delivery and research output. During this session, Ms Thérèse Zhang Pulkowski (Deputy-Director Higher Education Policy Unit, European University Association) also provided an overview of how HEIs in Europe use micro-credentials and include them in their study programmes.
The fourth session, which delves into concrete examples of how micro-credentials are used in European HEIs, features an overview of the utilisation/roll-out of micro-credentials in the German higher education landscape delivered by Mr Tim Maschuw (Team Leader – “ASEM & International Relations of the EHEA”, Erasmus+ National Agency Higher Education, DAAD) based on a recent survey conducted by DAAD and the Erasmus+ National Agency. Further examples were presented by Dr Mairéad Nic Giolla Mhichíl (Director of Micro-Credential Strategy & Innovation, Dublin City University & European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU)) who provided insight on how micro-credentials are used, quality assured and reviewed/integrated into the curricula at the ECIU European University Alliance; as well as from Ms Sorcha Mulcahy (Senior Project Manager – MicroCreds, University College Dublin) who elaborated on the MicroCreds project, its key deliverables, model of employer engagement and challenges.
The second day of the seminar commenced with a synthesis of discussions from the previous day. Following the summary delivered by Dr Hazman Shah Abdullah (Malaysia), Clinical Professor Emeritus Udom Kachintorn M.D. (Chairman of the National Reform Committee on Public Health) provided a reflection on the changes occurring in the workforce, perspective on Thailand's challenges on skill shortage and mismatch, competency development in higher education, and explored how work experience (individual know-how and tacit knowledge gained through professional experiences) can be measured and transferred. The keynote was followed by the sixth session on micro-credentials from the ASEAN perspective, chaired by Dr Eddy Chong Siong Choy (Chief Technical Officer, Financial Accreditation Agency). On behalf of the ASEAN Secretariat, Dr Roger Chao Jr. (Head of the Education, Youth and Sports Division, ASEAN Secretariat) advocated for ASEAN HEIs to consider using micro-credentials in their programmes, as well as exploring the possibility of establishing ASEAN guiding principles on micro-credentials. This exploration of the application of micro-credentials in lifelong learning in Indonesia was continued through the presentation of Prof. Dr Paulina Pannen (Chair, Indonesia Cyber Education Institute). Lastly, Dr Carmen Padrón-Nápoles (Knowledge Innovation Centre / SHARE Expert on Digital Credentials) presented the findings of the Study on Digital Credentials in ASEAN commissioned by SHARE and an overview as well as the status of the SHARE ASEAN-European Credit Transfer System (AECTS).
The outlooks from ASEAN continued during the seventh session on case studies. Datuk Shahul Dawood (Chief Executive, HRDCorp, Ministry of Human Resources Malaysia) presented the micro-credential initiative in Malaysia; Dr Diah Wihardini (Director of BINUS Global, Bina Nusantara University, Indonesia) explained how micro-credentials are implemented at BINUS; Dr Melinda dela Peña Bandalaria (Chancellor & Professor, University of the Philippines Open University) presented about micro-credential initiatives in a fully online university; and Mr Suresh Punjabi (Associate Dean of NUS School of Continuing & Lifelong Education/SCALE, Singapore) presented two approaches at NUS SCALE, i.e. broad skilling and deep skilling, the latter of which is credit-bearing. Following the presentations in the plenary, the participants broke out into two rooms to reflect further on general questions on their institutions’ initiatives for lifelong learners, and to discuss questions with the speakers from Malaysia & the Philippines in one room, and from Indonesia & Singapore in the other.
The seminar was closed with the eighth session intended for Thai stakeholders. During this session, Dr Kampon Ruethaivanich (Senior Executive Vice President, Human Resources Group, Mitr Phol Group), Assoc. Prof. Bundit Thipakorn, Dr Choltis Dhirathiti (Executive Director, AUN Secretariat) and Dr Kanjana Hongrat (Office of the Education Council, Ministry of Education Thailand) shared their reflections based on the discussions in the past 2 seminar days, including how micro-credentials can be linked to the national qualifications framework.
The seminar was attended by 502 participants (102 on-site attendees and 400 online attendees). As a result of the seminar, participants reported a better understanding of what micro-credentials are, as well as an appreciation of their relevance and potential for the industry and for supporting lifelong learning.