Some 140 delegates – from 19 Asian and 27 European nations – were attending the fourth Asia-Europe education ministerial, known as ASEMME4, being held in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia from 12-14 May. They were joined by delegates from Australia, New Zealand and Russia.
Delegates said the feasibility of an Asia-Europe Convention on mutual recognition of degrees was one of the key discussions at the conference.
Lack of credit transfer was an obstacle to student movement between Europe and Asia, said Abdul Rahim Bin Mohammed Nur, secretary general of Malaysia’s Ministry of Higher Education, in a keynote speech on 13 May.
Estimates presented at past ASEM education conferences indicated the number of Asian students going to Europe for full-time degrees was 15 times the number of European students heading to Asia.
“I believe that improving mutual recognition of higher education qualifications is a key factor for more balanced mobility, in particular to attract more European students to study in Asia, as is better information on the quality of higher education in receiving countries,” said Nur.
These were the main obstacles deterring students and staff from moving around, “even at the level of intra-regional movement”.
Nur pointed to “a concerted effort to create a harmonised, if not a single higher education system” within Asia, and pointed to other regional credit transfer systems developed around the world, including the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation system (ECTS), and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Credit Transfer System (ACTS).
But they were not necessarily compatible and the ACTS was still being developed, Nur said. In a pilot project in 2010-12, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, along with their 23 participating universities, had involved a total of 260 students in a regional mobility programme. This year, Vietnam joined in, with six universities expected to participate.