The Asian Universities Alliance (AUA) held its 2021 Board meeting on April 8 to review its past activities and set its plans and programs for the next year.
Tsinghua President Qiu Yong, who also serves as the AUA President, reviewed the alliance’s past achievements and announced major decisions made by the AUA Board during the meeting held online.
President Qiu said that he was glad to see that the AUA played a very positive role during the pandemic, and that it has grown to be a cohesive consortium that promotes quality communication and collaboration among the Asian universities.
Proposed by Tsinghua and founded in 2017, the AUA is a university alliance of 15 Asian universities that strives to jointly address regional and global challenges, specifically related to higher education and economic, scientific and technological development, by strengthening collaboration among member institutions.
Since its establishment, the AUA has held 49 short-term programs, events and meetings, and has been running four long-term programs.
“Back in the very early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the AUA organized an online presidents’ meeting to share experiences in fighting against the pandemic. This was the first of the several big events Tsinghua held last year to exchange experiences of combating COVID-19 with international partners,” President Qiu added.
Likewise, in November 2020, the AUA held an 8-hour session where faculty and staff of member universities discussed specific practices in teaching and student management during and after the pandemic.
At the end of last year, the chief executives of AUA member universities met again online to discuss the resilience of Asian universities in a VUCA world, a world characterized by “volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.”
Besides these activities, the AUA also attached importance to improving internal governance, gathering consensus, and strengthening solidarity among its members in the past years.
“The AUA has built a solid foundation through four years of hard work and has grown stronger from the COVID-19 crisis. Looking ahead, we could work towards a deeper level of collaboration, which cannot be achieved by any university alone,” President Qiu said.
Announcing the meeting’s decisions, President Qiu said that the AUA Board has decided to hand over the responsibility of the AUA Executive Presidency to Universiti Malaya.
“Next year is still full of uncertainty. I am glad to see that Dato’ Hamdi of Universiti Malaya will take on the responsibility of being AUA Executive President,” President Qiu said in his closing remarks. “I believe Universiti Malaya will lead the AUA to achieve further development.”
For the year 2020-2021, President Shigeo Katsu of Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan, served as the AUA Executive President.
President Qiu thanked President Katsu for his extraordinary leadership over the past challenging year which was marked by the global pandemic.
He said that the AUA has also decided to launch two multilateral pilot programs, a lecture series and an online education fair in the upcoming year, and that almost all the upcoming AUA programs and events would move online.
President Qiu pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic provided ample proof that universities should be more open, more integrative and more resilient in this VUCA world.
“We are capable of leveraging good resources to benefit people within and beyond the AUA community. Let’s work hard for another year and let’s expect an AUA that makes even greater contributions to Asia and the world,” he said.
In the first session of the meeting, AUA Secretary Zhang Chuanjie delivered a presentation on AUA programs and its financial statement, while Zhong Zhou, Director and Chief Researcher of the Asian Higher Education Outlook (AHEO) project of the AUA, discussed the future outlook for Asian universities.
Tsinghua University Vice President and Provost Yang Bin moderated the second session of the Board meeting.
AUA Secretary Zhang Chuanjie presented AUA programs and its budget for the next year, while Pomthong Malakul, Vice President of Chulalongkorn University, presented the Guidelines for AUA Associate Member Admission. All three proposals were approved by the AUA Board members.
The session also saw the formal handover ceremony of the AUA Executive Presidency from Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan, to Universiti Malaya, Malaysia.
Nazarbayev University President Shigeo Katsu thanked all the AUA member universities for their cooperation and support during his university’s executive presidency.
“Our collective efforts will bring us closer and help us to get ready for whatever the future holds,” he said.
Likewise, Vice Chancellor Dato’ Hamdi of Universiti Malaya said that his university was looking forward to playing a significant role in contributing to the AUA’s objectives.
The third session of the Board meeting saw a vibrant discussion on the topic “Cross-Registration Online: New Dynamics of Overseas Learning and Student Exchange in the AUA Community.”
Yong Zulina Zubairi, Associate Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Malaya, moderated the session, while representatives from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Tsinghua University, Universitas Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates University exchanged views.
Editors: Li Han,John Olbrich