Education ministers discuss balanced student flows between Asia, Europe

14 October 2014

Source: Xinhua (China)
Source type: News Agency
Published on: 11 May 2011

Posted on: 11 May 2011

COPENHAGEN, May 10 (Xinhua) -- European and Asian education ministers met here Tuesday to discuss how to balance flows of students between higher education institutes in Asia and Europe.

The ministers, as well as stakeholders in the higher education sector, met at the Third Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) for Ministers of Education to discuss balanced student mobility, quality assurance, and ways to engage business and industry in education.

"We have had many recommendations but have especially discussed the need to make connections between business and educational institutions," said Danish Education Minister Troels Lund Poulsen.

"We also discussed mobility, that is the exchange of students from Asia to Europe and from Europe to Asia," he told Xinhua.

Hao Ping, vice minister of China's Ministry of Education, presenting a paper on the mobility of students and staff between higher education institutes in Asia and Europe.

Siegbert Wuttig, director of the ASEM education secretariat, said there is currently "imbalanced mobility between Asia and Europe."

"We are trying, for instance, to increase the number of European students who may like to spend some time in Asian countries," Wuttig told Xinhua.

Wuttig believed there is a need to improve transparency in quality assurance, saying some of the national delegations at the meeting were interested in developing a common qualification framework. This would help correctly recognize qualifications and enable smoother exchange of students and academics, he said.

Rujhan Mustafa, director-general of Malaysia's Ministry of Higher Education, said that "Through quality assurance and recognition, we can have a proper balanced mobility of staff and students within Asia and Europe."

Malaysia is scheduled to host the next ASEM summit in 2013, and is expecting to host up to 150,000 foreign students by 2015.

According to Mustafa, the country wants to "develop a framework of how credit transfers can be put in place." This means students spending a semester abroad can count those credits towards courses back home.

Delegates pointed out that implementing joint curricula, summer courses and collaboratively-financed programs can also help balance student mobility.

"We would welcome more national investment in structured collaboration programs," said Elizabeth Colucci from the Brussels- based European University Association, a higher-education forum.

"On the Asian side, there is interest in embedding mobility in collaborative frameworks, in joint-degree programs and programs whereby you can guarantee that both parties are exchanging students. This can contribute to more of a balanced circulation of students and staff," she told Xinhua.

Ultimately, such balance could help regulate potentially harmful talent-flows from developing to developed countries.

"We would like to avoid 'brain-drain' and would instead prefer to see 'brain-circulation' by inspiring people to return to their home country after they have completed their degree in Europe, for instance," Wuttig remarked.

The summit also discussed bringing students closer to the needs of the labor market and developing the skills-base of a country's workforce by focusing on vocational training.

"We have a long tradition of vocational training in Denmark, and many Asian countries are trying to get hold of what we are doing here because they would like to transfer some of the Danish ideas and institutions to their countries," Poulsen said.

Editor: Mu Xuegua, XINHUA