Government and university representatives from across the Asia Pacific region have agreed to establish an education research network that will link universities, governments and industries.
It is designed to meet an urgent need for a multilateral forum to promote and facilitate research collaboration. The forum, to be called the Asia Pacific Higher Education Research Network (APHERN), will build on the existing Asia Pacific Higher Education Network (APHEN).
The meeting to establish APHERN was attended by delegates from Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and Cambodia as well as from the Association of Universities in Asia and the Pacific, and from Unesco. They met at Srinikharanwirot University in Bangkok with Di Yerbury, the vice-chancellor of Macquarie University in Sydney, acting as chair and representing the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee.
It will build on APHEN, which was initiated five years ago and includes universities in 12 countries. Academics are encouraged to make contact with colleagues via the internet, increase staff and student exchanges, convene conferences to discuss research findings, and establish postgraduate programmes. APHEN works in areas identified by Unesco as priorities related to sustainable development.
As part of its commitment to Unesco, the Australian government in 1993 appointed the AVCC to implement the development of a broad, multilateral network of higher education institutions. Following an initial meeting that year, universities and ministries of education from 15 countries sent representatives to a second APHEN regional conference in Sydney in 1996 when several networks were set up and an APHEN webpage launched.
Thailand's minister for university affairs, Prachuab Chaiyasan, has welcomed the decision to establish the new research forum. He referred to a "growing sense of a regional perspective" and the importance of collaboration in research in promoting an "Asia Pacific dimension".
"Partnerships and research collaboration are fundamental in the development of universities in the region," Mr Chaiyasan said. "Universities, in turn, play a critical role in the region's social and economic development."
A workshop will be held at the end of 1999 to finalise arrangements and to plan for a major launch of the forum in conjunction with Unesco in 2000.
The AVCC and the Asia Pacific Research Institute at Macquarie were asked to implement the APHERN work plan.