Asia and Europe need to pursue closer collaboration in education to create better mobility and quality assurance among the two continents.
Speaking at the opening of the three-day Asia-Europe Meeting of Ministers for Education ( ASEMME4 ) in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, secretary-general of Malaysia's Higher Education Ministry, Datuk Ab. Rahim Bin Md. Noor, noted that education dynamics in the globalized world had created new stimuli and called for a change of direction for all parties.
'It brings challenges that none of us can confront completely on our own. Here is where the demand for cooperation, collaboration and co-creation is most needed.'
At the event attended by 32 ASEM ( Asia-Europe Meeting ) member-states officials, he noted that the movement of students between Asia and Europe was unbalanced as there were more Asian students pursuing education in Europe.
'Most developed countries in Europe already have quality education, therefore Europeans are reluctant to study in Asia,' he added.
Indonesia's Education and Culture Ministry's head of planning and foreign cooperation bureau, Ananto Kusuma Seta, spoke about the similar phenomenon.
Indonesia saw 9,000 foreign students, who mostly came from other Asian countries, while the number of Indonesian students studying abroad reached more than 82,000 in 2012.
'One of the main obstacles faced by foreign students who want to study in our country are visas. Since we weren't able to provide student visas, the students were only able to apply for tourist visas, which complicates things should they not complete their studies by the time their visa expires,' Ananto told The Jakarta Post.
He acknowledged that Indonesia had not fully optimized its potential and should exert more effort to grasp the interests of European students.
'We could,for instance, enhance various programs including disaster management and geothermal studies, which could attract a lot of students from abroad,' he said.
Ananto said that a closer Asia-Europe collaboration would enable the younger generation to meet and share experiences.
'We are also discussing how to ensure students from both continents have the same job opportunities after completing their studies,' he said.
According to Noor, another challenge is to increase student mobility from Europe to Asia as there was a lack of equivalent credit transfers among universities in ASEM member countries.
'Without structural convergence, which consists of compatible academic cycles, shared quality assurance procedures, system or provision for qualification recognition and also domestic regulations, the sustainable movement of students is not likely to occur,' he said.
The meeting discussed four core topics, namely quality assurance and recognition, engaging business and industry in education, balanced mobility and lifelong learning, technical and vocational education and training.
It is part of the multifaceted and informal process of ASEM ' a forum for dialogue and cooperation between European and Asian countries ' which was launched in Bangkok in 1996. In 2006, ASEM underlined the importance of education as an investment in human resources.