APRU 14th Senior Staff Meeting

The Internationalisation of Higher Education in the Asia-Pacific

14th APRU Senior Staff Meeting, Cebu, 7-9 September 2016
Host: University of the Philippines 
  1. Welcome Remarks by President Alfredo Pascual, University of the Philippines
  2. Current Issues on Higher Education Reform in the Philippines
  3. Understanding the Philippines Today
  4. APRU Vision and Plan
  5. The APRU Impact Report: the next steps
  6. Speaking Frankly 2016: the big issues facing APRU Senior Staff
  7. Internationalisation of Higher Education: Future Perspectives
  8. International Partnerships: panel presentations
  9. Next Steps for APRU

Delegates at the 14th APRU Senior Staff Meeting. 
(Photo: University of the Philippines)

Click here to view SSM photos.
Click here to view videos of APM and SSM 2017.
Click here to view UP’s news article. 
Click here to view program, list of participants and presentations. 

Higher Education leaders from 45 leading research universities gathered in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu to discuss trends and best practices in internationalisation, international strategies and partnerships.

Welcome Remarks by President Alfredo Pascual, University of the Philippines

(Photo: University of the Philippines)

In his keynote speech, President Alfredo Pascual, University of the Philippines (UP), stressed internationalisation to be a means to serve the country and its people by acquisition of the best practices of other universities worldwide through enhanced collaboration. “Internationalisation is, first and foremost, an outlook, an attitude that thinks global and acts local,” said President Pascual, highlighting that internationalisation required a genuine appreciation of the unique strengths and gifts that the different universities could offer.

Current Issues on Higher Education Reform in the Philippines


 Speaking on internationalisation, Dr Patricia Licuanan, Chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education of the Republic of the Philippines said that internationalisation should not necessarily involve mobility, but also benefited students who remain in the country. This entails building bilateral agreements with international partners and creating a diverse student body by encouraging more international full-time or exchange students to study in the Philippines. Dr Licuanan also described the K-12 reform as necessary and an opportunity for universities such as UP to encourage its faculty to take up PhD study during the transition period.

Understanding the Philippines Today


Meanwhile, Professor of English and Creative Writing of UP, Jose “Butch” Dalisay, Jr., spoke of the history and socio-political landscape of the Philippines, describing it as a nation recreated in America’s own image. “Not only did we switch to English and largely forget Spanish within a couple of generations; aside from American fashions, we adopted American jurisprudence, and were given a Supreme Court which wasn’t supreme enough, because its decisions could be appealed before the US Supreme Court in Washington. We were given a bicameral legislature, with a Senate and a National Assembly that was the equivalent of Congress,” said Professor Dalisay in his speech, emphasising a pattern that marked American influence over the country which has lasted up to the present time.

APRU Vision and Plan


In his report to the meeting, Secretary General Christopher Tremewan mentioned that the theme and format of the meeting was designed in response to comments made by our Senior Staff at last year’s SSM in Auckland so that they had the opportunity to advance their thinking on internationalisation.

Dr Tremewan also described universities as a tremendous force in driving change, so that they need to ensure that the benefits of education and research can be shared equitably with those most in need.

As a connector across national and cultural borders emphasising on delivering impact and advocacy, APRU is increasing its engagement with APEC and other international bodies on public policy discussions at the international and national levels.

He also acknowledged the contributions of Senior Staff to the APRU network. In particular he thanked Professor Andrew Wee, National University of Singapore (NUS) and Professor Dennis Galvan, University of Oregon for their stewardship as IPAC Co-chairs and welcomed the leadership of Professor Cindy Fan, UCLA, and Professor Jiro Kokuryo, Keio University, for the next two years.

The APRU Impact Report: the next steps


The APRU Impact Report 2016, a comprehensive study of comparative data and case studies demonstrating the value and impact of the work of the 45 APRU member universities, on their societies and the challenges of the region, was launched in June at the Annual Presidents’ Meeting. APRU presidents also decided that the next report should have a focus on the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH).

Senior Staff welcomed the theme of next year’s report, commenting that it comes at a period where university funding for the SSH is shrinking. They expressed interests to review data on interdisciplinary collaboration between SSH and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields and whether such collaboration increases Field-Weighted Citation Impact.

Speaking Frankly 2016: the big issues facing APRU Senior Staff


(L-R) Prof Joanna Regulska (UC Davis), IPAC Co-Chair Prof Jiro Kokuryo (Keio University) and Prof Andrew Wee (NUS).
(Photo: University of the Philippines)

Participants exchanged ideas and suggestions on institutional international strategies and international partnerships candidly in the Speaking Frankly session for the second time in the SSM. Regarding university global offices, Professor Andrew Wee, NUS, shared his experience in managing the NUS Global initiative, specifically on its organisation structures and communication strategies within the institution. Professor Joanna Regulska, University of California, Davis (UC Davis), also spoke about building strong transformational university-wide partnerships.

Internationalisation of Higher Education: Future Perspectives

(Photo: University of the Philippines)

Professor Rui Yang, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong (HKU), gave a thought-provoking and inspiring presentation on the Internationalisation of Higher Education. In his keynote, Professor Yang contended that East Asian universities, after imitating their Western counterparts with success for decades, are now facing their unique challenges such as maintaining academic autonomy while balancing the interests of their governments. He then argued that East Asian universities could become truly world-class institutions only with a strong sense of self-identity, probably based on the Confucian model. Such unique insights stimulated intense discussion among Senior Staff.

(L-R) IPAC Co-Chair Prof Cindy Fan (UCLA), Prof John Kao (HKU), Prof Sunhyuk Kim (Korea University) and Prof Norimasa Morita (Waseda University).
(Photo: University of the Philippines)

Professor John Kao, HKU, responded by dissecting internationalisation in two aspects —the practical consideration and the philosophical consideration. Universities face the tension between practical goals such as improving rankings and the moral mission of contributing to society.

Professor Sunhyuk Kim, Korea University, acknolwedged that the global model for higher education is a western model indeed, while universities have to be cautious in defining an East Asian (Confucian) model which is often following an instrumentalist view of education. For Korean universities, it has been a challenge to overcome the perception that impartiality of scientific investigations has been compromised due to the blurring boundaries between the ivory tower and policy circle.

Professor Norimasa Morita, Waseda University, believed there is a strong sense of vernacularism in East Asian universities especially in the areas of humanities and the social sciences. An education system rooted in Confucianism may produce highly intellectual students, who may also be highly conforming to norms and rules. East Asian universities, nevertheless, are shifting to develop students with strong problem-solving skills and creativity.

International Partnerships: panel presentations

The insightful presentations by the guest speakers from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Hinrich Foundation, National Science Foundation and Elsevier marked another highlight of the three-day meeting.

(Photo: University of the Philippines)

Dr Gambhir Bhatta, Technical Advisor (Governance) and Chair, Governance Thematic Committee of ADB spoke about how ADB’s Governance Thematic Group chooses to work with external partners, and academia in particular.

(Photo: University of the Philippines)

Mr Alexander Boome, Program Director, Hinrich Foundation, talked about partnerships for talent development in global trade, in particular the foundation’s trade scholarships and education-business partnerships for students.

(Photo: University of the Philippines)

Dr Elizabeth Lyons, Director, National Science Foundation, Tokyo Regional Office, spoke about potential partnerships across all fields of science and engineering and NSF’s big ideas for future investment between US universities and their counterparts in other Asia-Pacific countries.


Professor Brad Fenwick, Senior Vice President Global Strategic Alliances, Elsevier, and Senior Advisor to APRU, presented the evidence base which showed the benefits of international, interdisciplinary collaboration.

Next Steps for APRU

(L-R) Prof John Kao (HKU) and Prof Joanna Regulska (UC Davis).
(Photo: University of the Philippines)

Recapping the discussions at the two parallel breakout sessions held after the panel discussion, Professor Kao, HKU, and Professor Regulska, UC Davis, both commented that the key discussions were revolved around identifying the value the APRU network: “what could members do collectively that could not be done individually?” Most Senior Staff believed values derived from sharing of best practices and close partnership among members to transform teaching practices. Also, perhaps there is an opportunity for APRU to act as a translational tool to connect research with public policy.


Ms Fiona Docherty, UNSW Australia, was called on to reflect on the key takeaways from the three-day meeting. She deliberated on how APRU could act as a “pracademic” network—one that works in partnership to improve the lives of people from the most disadvantaged communities in the region. APRU also needed to develop its research clusters with clarity in order to play a role central to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in the region, said Ms Docherty.

The meeting concluded with a sense that APRU had reached a new, exciting stage of development which is based on common goals, thrusts, and ambition amongst its members.