Over 800 leaders from around the world today attended the opening of Going Global 2018, the world’s largest highest education conference, organised by the British Council and taking place in the ASEAN region for the first time.
Opening remarks highlighted the need for coordinated global responses from the education sector to issues arising from increased interconnectivity, including climate change, pandemics, violent extremism, and the cross border movement of people.
Her Excellency Tan Sri Dr Noorul Ainur Mohd Nur, Secretary General, Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia, gave an overview of the Malaysian Higher Education landscape, home to 1.2 million students.
She said: “Malaysia’s gross enrolment ratio in 2016 of 44% is higher than most of the ASEAN countries and higher than the world average of 37 per cent. We are very proud of our success stories on the global front.” Malaysia’s higher education system was ranked 25th out of 50 countries globally, she added.
His Excellency Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, Deputy Secretary General for Socio-Cultural Community at ASEAN, said, “These issues depend heavily on international cooperation as much as national action. We need to make sure our education system is marked by quality, credibility and innovation.”
He added that education and training for qualified human resources is the key factor for social and economic development in a globalised world.
Dr Ayesha Khanna, Co-Founder and CEO of ADDO AI, an artificial intelligence (AI) advisory firm, said that with the disruptive challenges of artificial intelligence and automation come as many opportunities. Predictions around job losses in numerous white-collar sectors such as banking and law could be scary, but new jobs were also inevitable and opened exciting possibilities.
“‘Any kind of work that is repeatable can be mimicked by a machine,” Dr Khanna said. “However, creativity and humanity have never been in more demand as technology does the routine and the mundane.”
The challenge for learning institutions was to find the right balance between theory and applied learning, because all artificial intelligence still depended on sector expertise, she said.
Speakers at the opening plenary session highlighted the fact that Going Global was being hosted for the first time in ASEAN, a region which has focused on harmonisation of higher education over the last few years with great success.
Director of the British Council in Malaysia Sarah Deverall extended a warm welcome to the audience of ministers, higher education leaders, policy-makers, vice-chancellors and institutional heads.
She said: ‘It’s an enormous pleasure to have worked with the dynamic Ministry of Higher Education in Malaysia as co-hosts. I would like to express my gratitude for their inspiring vision and practical support to make Going Global in Malaysia a reality. Malaysia has a dynamic education environment and a growing reputation as a higher education hub.”
Also speaking was Professor Janet Beer, Trustee of British Council and President Universities UK. She said, “We have an exciting and challenging agenda at Going Global. Universities have always drawn ideas from far and wide….in their local and international context. Here in Malaysia the value of transnational educations very well understood. But how can higher education better connect with, and serve, people across all levels of society?”
Sam Gyimah MP, UK Minister of State for Universities, Science and Research, addressed the conference by video. He said: “We are particularly keen to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit from international experiences which is why the Department for Education here in the UK recently doubled the number of internships for disadvantaged young people through the British Council’s Generation UK programme. At the same time we are welcoming record numbers of international students to the UK.”
The conference runs until Friday 4 May.