Pacific heads try for Apec influence

June 30, 2000

An elite group of Pacific Rim university heads is attempting to increase its influence on the leading agency for open trade and economic cooperation among Asia-Pacific economies.

The Association of Pacific Rim Universities' group of vice-chancellors and presidents has 34 members in countries bordering the Pacific Ocean. When it met in Vancouver for its fourth annual conference last weekend, the member institutions backed continued efforts to establish an advisory role in Apec, the region's grouping of world leaders, and emphasised the contribution they could make in their countries' science and technology success.

Steven B. Sample, president of Apru and of the University of Southern California, thinks the best way to influence the Pacific Rim is by university presidents getting together informally.

Modelled on the Association of American Universities, Apru has universities queuing to join. Member universities often find themselves favoured by their respective governments.

Mr Sample said members often secure an advisory role in government, but added that "there was no objective to try to change the interior politics of any nation".

He said that the group's respect among governments probably had a positive influence in opening up academic relations.

Wei-Jao Chen, president of the National University of Taiwan, is happy to be setting up exchanges with American and Canadian universities.

"Our students are encouraged to study abroad. Even in communist countries, there is very good academic cooperation," he said.

Details: http://www.usc.edu/ext-relations /news_service/apruwww/ apru.html

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