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Preparation for the ASEAN Community in 2015


 

Preparation for the ASEAN Community in 2015
Thai Higher Education Review
Vol.X No.33 July-September 2010

Background

To response to the globalisation and the regional economic and political development, the ASEAN Leaders had announced their intention to create the ASEAN Community at the Ninth Summit in Indonesia in October 2003 before ASEAN established the Vientiane Action Plan to realise the goal a year later. The ASEAN Community will be based on three pillars: ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and an ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. 

The ASEAN Community will foster cooperation among ASEAN member countries particularly in terms of security by enhancing self-management capacity of regional security and economics by developing a single market and regional competitiveness. Moreover, environmental and regional social cohesion are also among the ASEAN’s priorities. It is expected ASEAN Community will significantly increase a flow of people (workforce, tourists and students), investment, trade (goods and services). 

As a member of the ASEAN, an establishment of the ASEAN Community in 2015 will inevitably affect Thailand in every aspect. It is imperative that Thailand have to prepare ourselves not only for being a good member of ASEAN Community but for utilising the ASEAN Community.   

 

Role of education

Although the ASEAN Community is based on the three pillars, education appears to be a cross cutting element that support a successfully and stability formation of the ASEAN Community. According to the ASEAN Charter, launched in 2007, a closer cooperation in education and human resource development will empower the people of ASEAN and strengthen the ASEAN Community.

The Office of Higher Education Commission (OHEC) is fully aware that education particularly the higher education has important role in supporting the establishment of ASEAN Community and preparing Thai people and Thailand for the regional integration.

Due to the Second 15-Year Long Range Plan on Higher Education of Thailand, covering 2008-2022, ASEAN Community is among      the future scenarios impacting society as well as the Thai higher education system. The plan calls for Thailand and Thai higher education as a lead player in ASEAN higher education especially in terms of harmonising ASEAN higher education system. The plan suggests that Thailand and ASEAN could learn the European Union experiences and adapt its good practices to the region especially mutual recognition process and student mobility programmes.

To response to the establishment of ASEAN Community and the Second 15-Year Long Range Plan on Higher Education of Thailand, the OHEC launched the Higher Education Strategies for the ASEAN Community in 2015. The goal of the strategy is the Thai graduates meet the international quality and recognize their responsibility as member of ASEAN Community. 

 

The strategy

The strategy analyses the expected scenarios in ASEAN in 2015 and their impacts to Thai people and Thai higher education system. The liberalisation of trade in education services and the future employment in ASEAN are among the important scenarios in the strategy. The liberalisation of trade in education services will increase the flow of education services in both electronic and tradition. Hence, the OHEC expected the increasing mobility of student and degree programme in the region. The mobility of student includes the vertical (going aboard for higher degree) and horizontal (going aboard for the part of the expecting degree) mobility. While the mobility of programme consists of joint programme, on-line programme, and the establishment of foreign institutions in the region. The future employment in ASEAN will require the graduates to have additional skills apart from their professional skill such as English and other languages used in ASEAN and inter-cultural skill.

Hence, the strategy strongly encourages higher education institutions to produce the graduates of international quality who equipped with professional skills, language skill and inter-cultural skill. To fulfill this ambition, the strategy calls for a reform of languages education, an additional student mobility programme, which emphasises on the credit transfer, and a cultural exchange programme.

The strategy also gives a high priority to strengthening higher education institutions, curricula and faculty members. The liberalisation of trade in education services is an opportunity for higher education institutions and Thailand to welcome more foreign students especially from ASEAN member countries. Yet, according to the strategy, the higher education institutions have to enhance a quality of faculty members, curricula and facilities to meet an international standard. In addition, the Thai Education International Office (TEI) should be established to facilitate and promote Thai higher education aboard.

Apart from the students, higher education institutions and faculty members, the strategy also focuses on an enhancing the role of Thai higher education system in ASEAN bearing in mind that Thailand has to take a leading role in ASEAN higher education.
The strategy encourages the OHEC to work closely to regional agencies such as ASEAN University Network and SEAMEO RIHED on a harmonisation of ASEAN higher education system. The harmonisation will cover the quality assurance, qualifications frameworks, credit transfer and other related issues. Besides, the ASEAN higher education information clearing house must be developed to support the process.

 

Next step

The OHEC and higher education institutions have operated the new student mobility project entitled the Malaysia-Indonesia-Thailand Student Mobility Programme since 2010. It is the solid step toward the ASEAN Community.  However, according to the strategy, there are also the important projects to finish prior to the 2015 such as the Thailand Education Institute (TEI), the ASEAN information clearing house and the ASEAN Credit Transfer System. Hence, it is important that the OHEC and the higher education institutions have to collaboratively work to achieve the ASEAN goal.

© 2008 Bureau of International Cooperation Strategy, The Office of the Higher Education Commission 328 Si Ayutthaya Road, Ratchathewi, Bangkok 10400 Tel: (66) 2610 5391 - 99, (66)2610 5401 - 03, (66) 2610 5462 - 64 Fax: (66) 2354 5570, (66) 2354 5614 Email: int_coop@mua.go.th