Dr. Melinda dela Peña Bandalaria, Chancellor of the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) and President of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU), served as Speaker at the 7th Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) Rector’s Conference and Students’ Forum (ARC7) in Bucharest, Romania held on 11-14 May 2019.
Chancellor Bandalaria talked in the Working Group Session for the second sub-theme of the conference entitled “Taking Action at Community Level: SDGs as Drivers of University Societal Impact.” The session focused on how good practices of universities translate universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into local action; how communities can be engaged in knowledge transfer; and what partnerships can be fostered to increase social impact.
In her talk, Chancellor Bandalaria shared the practices of UPOU in increasing societal impact using the SDG as a framework. She mentioned UPOU’s initiatives, including those directed towards environmental management and sustainability; UPOU’s mode of education that ensures the accessibility and inclusivity of everyone though open and distance elearning (ODeL); the offering of degree programs, non-formal programs and Massive Open Online Courses which help increase awareness about the SDGs and mobilize action through open education practices; and continuing partnership with government and non-government institutions to achieve shared goals.
Professor Bandalaria also expounded on some policy recommendations, which include the following:
- At institutional level: to put in place policies that will involve different stakeholders in initiatives aligned with the SDGs; prioritize SDG initiatives in the teaching, research and public service of the institution; and allocate resources to enable SDG-related activities.
- At the national level: educational ministers should take SDGs as a framework for the teaching, research and public service of universities; and allocate resources to enable SDG-related activities.
- At the regional level: regional cooperation and resource mobilization to enable universities pursue local and regional initiatives; and promote regional cooperation among universities as part their respective internationalization programs.
The conference carried the theme “Higher Education taking Action towards the Sustainable Development Goals: Perspectives from Asia and Europe.” It was organized by ASEF and the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration of Romania. The conference addresses quality and inclusive education, university governance, and university-business partnership.
The ARC7 was attended by 150 university leaders, policy makers, and representatives from non-governmental education organizations; and 51 student leaders from 51 countries in Asia and Europe. The conference aims to build awareness on the importance of higher education acting on sustainability; to explain context in Asia and Europe; to identify issues of joint concern; to provide an intellectual space for exchange and peer learning; to show concrete good practices from Asia and Europe to inspire each other; and to create policy recommendations to the ASEM ME on how to take development goals.
The ARC7, which also served as the Official Dialogue Partner of ASEM Education Ministers’ Meeting, is held biennially either in an Asian or European country. (ACLlamas)