APRU participated for the first time in the Global Access to Post-Secondary education (GAPS) Conference in Kuala Lumpur from October 5 to 8, 2015 with the theme 'Meeting the global challenge of building equitable knowledge economies'. The GAPS Initiative, led by the European Access Network, aims to build the global case for increasing access to post-secondary education for those from all social backgrounds, exchange knowledge and practice across countries to improve our understanding of how to meet the access challenge and advocate to policymakers and senior leaders across all sectors.
The 2015 conference, hosted by Sunway University, examined equity and access through the perspectives of sustainable development, indigenous and migrant learners, student financing and mobility, public and private higher education models, and evidence-based approaches to global student access. While generally recognising the contributions of higher education in advancing human capital development, and more prosperous societies, there are expectations and opportunities for postsecondary and higher education to tackle diverse challenges in widening access, re-defining success, and meeting humanistic aspirations beyond issues in employability, financing and reaching disadvantaged groups.
Jacquelline Heng, Program Director (Higher Education) spoke at the roundtable session on 'Access, Diversity and Equity in Post-Secondary Education in Asia & the South Pacific', presenting on the work of APRU in equity and access which included a summary report on APRU members' equity indicators, outcomes of the Santiago experts' workshop in 2014 and the strategy behind APRU's focus on lower SES students as a focal area in higher education.
Keynote speakers at the conference included leaders and education specialists from the International Association of Universities, UNESCO, World Bank, and the European Access Network. The Best Presenter Award was won by Ruben Canedo of UC Berkeley (APRU member) and Kyle Southern of University of Michigan, for their workshop on institutional support for undocumented immigrant students.