September 23, 2017

Myanmar-China Education Cooperation: Asian Universities Alliance (AUA)

  • BY Prof. Yin Myo Thu (IR)

Currently, the term ‘internationalization in education’ is popularly articulated among faculty members and university students in many countries. Education in Myanmar is now opening up to the world within its limited resources as the internationalization is increasingly penetrating into individual’s education. It is a good opportune time for Myanmar in cooperating with many prestigious universities of other countries. There are many university students who have chance to participate in international education events, seminars and workshops held in neighboring countries and countries in other continents. Education and research cooperation with neighboring countries has been significantly multiplied since 2011. Many prestigious universities rushed into Myanmar to do research and education cooperation with universities throughout Myanmar. Obviously, on 28 April 2017, a great step for education in Asian Continent has been launched at the Tsinghu University, People’s Republic of China. It was, in fact, a grand event of launch ceremony of Asian Universities Alliance (AUA) at the Tsinghua University, the most prestigious university in PRC and Asia. It is like a Belt and Road among Asian Universities for university education cooperation.
As the higher education or university education becomes the forefront of people-to-people contact, the universities among Asia developed an idea to establish educational cooperation in higher and advance education to support diverse needs of countries. Before the official launching ceremony of AUA in April, 2017, there were many steps and preparation for member universities in Asia. In October 2016, there was a meeting among twelve universities in Asia, held at the Tsinghu University to form an association for Asian Universities. Unfortunately, the University of Yangon was unable to attend the meeting. Within a month, a four member delegation led by Director Fang Yanghua, Tsinghua University came to meet with Rector Dr. Pho Kaung, the University of Yangon and explained how AUA Constitution has been agreed among member universities. Even the University of Yangon could not participate in drafting the AUA Constitution, other members agreed that the University of Yangon as a founding member of the AUA. After completing the process to enter into AUA, the University of Yangon is allowed to be member of AUA in December 2016. When it was launched officially, the member increased to fifteen universities in Asia as India interested to participate in AUA.
AUA is composed of fifteen universities of Asia, all of which are century old or nearly century old universities. The University of Yangon is now approaching in its centennial anniversary in 2020. AUA member universities are Chulalongkorn University (Thailand), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HK SAR), King Surd Unversity (Saudi Arabia), Singapore National University- NUS (Singapore), Nazarvayeb University (Kazakhstan), Tsinghua University and Beijing (Peking) University (PRC), Seoul National University (ROK), UAE University (United Arab Emirate), Univesitas Indonesia (Indonesia), Colombo University (Sri Lanka), Univestie of Malaya (Malaysia), Tokyo University (Japan), University of Yangon (Myanmar) and Bombay Institute of Technology (India).
So, it is time to announce that the AUA is starting to create its activities formally. The very first step is to launch the First AUA Summit and Launch Ceremony on 28 April 2017 together with AUA Youth Innovation Workshop in which four students from each member universities participated. On 28 April 2017, all 56 delegations from fifteen universities held the Working Group Meeting to lay down the future cooperation among AUA member universities. Myanmar ambassador to PRC, U Thit Lwin Ohn also attended the AUA Launch Ceremony where the Vice Premier of PRC Madam Liu Yuanxue gave a very interesting policy-based address on development of China in the world. It is clear that PRC is growing economically upon which Chinese leaders are trying to accommodate its development with other partners in the world, especially with universities in Asia.
There are significant points agreed during Working Group Meeting. Tsinghua University will serve as Presidency of AUA for 2017-2020 and Chulalongkong University of Thailand will take the responsibility to serve as executive presidency for 2018 and Univesitas Indonesia for 2019. Delegation members agreed the decision to lay down three norms in measuring educational achievement among member universities, that is, Expert, Quality and Connectivity in carrying out AUA activities such as student exchange, faculty exchange, research and development, cultural assimilation and internalization of university education. All members agreed to give membership due USD 5000 annually while Tsinghua University Alumni provided USD 1.5 million for AUA activities in the future. Themes were selected by open voting system. After second round of voting, there come out three themes for AUA 2017-2019, that is, “Public Health”, “Resource & Development”, and “Information Technology” to do research collaboration for the first three years of cooperation.
There were four students from the University of Yangon participated in AUA Youth Innovation Workshop which was held for two weeks at the Tsinghua University. All four students could present the challenges of higher education, global shift, aging society care and technical advance individually.
After university students from AUA member universities, there was a time for Presidential Forum telecasted by the CCTV which was also interesting event and all participants observed the diverse nature of education challenges in their own countries and the way to overcome these challenges. Dr. Omar Kyaw, Pro Rector of the University of Yangon also explained the biggest limitations for the university and students today in advanced education of Myanmar.
It is found that the university is a significant venue where students have good opportunity to develop their moral and physical training at the same time. The proof was that the grand orchestra played by Tsinghua students and its alumina for the remarkable launching of AUA on 29 April 2017 was the very important ground in nurturing moral and ethical education of a good citizen of a country. As education is increasingly regionalized and globalized in current intellectual development, we should strive hard to keep up our education development together with partners who have common objectives. It is also observed that the development of a student needs a lot of preparation and facilities such as perfect and excellent human resources, financial resources and moral support for good future generations.

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