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This year marks 45 years of dialogue relations between the EU and ASEAN. Ahead of the EU-ASEAN Commemorative Summit on 14 December in Brussels, the European Commission and the ASEAN Secretariat, in partnership with the SHARE and ERASMUS+ Programmes, hosted an event titled “Celebrating EU-ASEAN People-to-People Cooperation on Higher Education”. The event was attended by high-level stakeholders, including Commissioner Urpilainen and discussed the numerous gains achieved through higher education and research cooperation, concluding it as a key pillar to the strategic partnership between both regions. Greater mobility of students and professionals was identified as a driver to further knowledge, facilitate the flow of ideas and innovation between the EU and Southeast Asia regions, all which enhance employability, digital transition, and the green agenda.

In her remarks, Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner, International Partnerships, European Commission commended the success of higher education and research cooperation and committed, “to go further…[to] take our cooperation on education, connectivity, and research to new heights” via the Global Gateway Strategy. She revealed that on Wednesday the Sustainable Connectivity Global Gateway Flagship will be launched. This will “build on the very successful SHARE programme” and “key priorities include strengthening student and academic mobility, reinforcing cross-regional university networks, and boosting ASEAN vocational education institutions and businesses, notably to support the green and digital transitions.”

H.E. Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General ASEAN thanked the EU for its “continued support in the advancement of ASEAN higher education” mentioning a new report on “the current state of higher education in the region [which] highlights key thematic areas including equity, diversity and inclusion, internationalisation and regionalisation of higher education, and sustainability that needs to be addressed to improve ASEAN higher education.”   

H.E. Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, Cambodian Minister of Education, Youth and Sports highlighted the EU and ASEAN are transforming education through the partnerships and “must work together to achieve the SDGs and leave behind a better world for all”. Key thoughts for the future include “1) university reforms are necessary to develop soft skills and 21st century skills…; 2) Universities [become] a hub within an entrepreneurial ecosystem – [allowing] education to link to the real world…3) University-business sectors [link up] to promote joint projects and research…4) and establish an EU-ASEAN Cyber University” to, amongst other things ”implement digital education programme such as coding, app, robotics, etc.”


Materials from the event:


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