Yunnan University is one of the most prestigious Universities in China. It is part of the Double First Class University Plan and Project 211. Since its establishment in 1923, Yunnan University has focused on perfection in moral integrity, excellence in scholarly attainments and greatness in career results. The International Academic Forums of the South and Southeast Asian University Network, organized by the secretariat of the Network, took place in Kunming, China on Nov 23 to 24 to further promote exchanges and cooperation between higher education institutions in China and South and Southeast Asian countries, and to enhance people-to-people exchanges. The main theme of the forum was “Opportunities and Paths for Cooperation between Universities in China and South and Southeast Asia under the New Situation”. Under the main forum, five parallel forums and the 2023 Ambassador Annual Meeting were also held concurrently. Prof. Wu Yun, Director of the International Office was the anchor person of the inaugural session.
At the opening ceremony, Prof. Hu Jinming, Executive Secretary General of the Network and Vice President of Yunnan University delivered a speech in which he threw light on the efforts of Yunnan University to strengthen cooperation among the universities of the regional countries in the context of South and Southeast Asian Universities Network.
Prof. Dr. Zahid Anwar, Vice President (r) of the University of Peshawar in Pakistan, spoke on behalf of member universities of the South and Southeast Asian University Network. Prof Dr Zahid Anwar in his keynote speech said that it was an honor and privilege for him to be invited by the prestigious Yunnan University to deliver a keynote speech at that August Forum.
Universities play a crucial role in research and development. They serve as centres for intellectual exploration, fostering a deeper understanding of academic disciplines and added that the success story of Chinese Higher Education has inspired many Universities in developing countries to collaborate with Chinese Universities and achieve new higher goals of research and development. Many Universities in China and Pakistan are cooperating under the guidance of the China Association of Higher Education and the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan.
Institutions of higher education play a very important role in the nation-building and development of a country. Collective efforts make the difficult tasks easy and through collective efforts the Universities of the South and Southeast Asian University Network will be able to achieve their goals without much ado. Member Universities from Pakistan and especially the University of Peshawar have contributed to these efforts even during the pandemic.
He explained that academic collaboration in higher education is building bridges for academic excellence. Academic excellence can be achieved by Standardizing Academic Processes, initiating Language and Cultural Exchange Programs, establishing joint Administrative Committees, and securing funding through Grants and Partnerships. Through collaboration, the Universities can galvanize and Enhance Academic Quality, Expand Research Opportunities, Foster Cultural and Global Understanding and Address Resource Constraints.
They can achieve academic excellence by collaborating in higher education through Academic Exchange Programs and Joint Research Initiatives. Collective efforts through a win-win model in the realm of higher education will be a quantum jump to realize the cherished dream of a peaceful, prosperous and shared future, he concluded. Soe Soe Aung, Pro-Rector of Naypyitaw State University in Myanmar, made a speech as a representative from Parallel Forums. Prof. Mohammad Bulbul Ashraf Siddiqi, Director of the Confucius Institute at North South University in Bangladesh, spoke as a representative of distinguished Ambassadors of the Network.
Dr Liu Peng, the Network’s Senior Program Officer presented a five-year work report of the Network. Representatives from universities in China and South and Southeast Asian countries – including Zhou Aoying, Vice President of East China Normal University, Ni Lar Myint Htoo, President of the National Management College in Myanmar, Lu Qiao, Vice President of Zhaotong University, and Qi Bin, Vice President of Krirk University in Thailand – attended the opening ceremony. Representatives from various disciplines in China and South and Southeast Asian countries, and students and teachers from Yunnan University also participated in the forum.
At the opening ceremony, representatives from Yangon University of Foreign Languages in Myanmar, Abdul Rahman University of Management and Technology in Malaysia, the School of Journalism and Communication at Yunnan University in China, the School of Journalism and Information Communication at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, and the Yunnan University Education Foundation jointly signed cooperation agreements. The signed agreements would support collaboration and exchange among member universities in big data and communication strategy research, “language + professional” combination talent training, and regional country studies. Among them, the South and Southeast Asian International Innovation Talent Training Project received a donation of 600,000 yuan.
The forum featured six academic forums with 177 experts and scholars from 12 countries, including China, Malaysia, Singapore, Nepal, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Laos, Pakistan, and Cambodia. Discussions centred around ecosystem management in the new era, international communication, food security, language communication cooperation, regional country studies, and training emerging engineering talents. The Forum of Theory and Practice of International and Area Studies under the New Situation, one of the six academic forums is underway in Kunming. In this forum, Prof Dr Zahid Anwar discussed in detail how Sinology flourished in Pakistan in the wake of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Prof Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, Quad-e-Azam University, Pakistan also delivered a speech on “Transforming International Geopolitics: Implications for South Asian Security”. Many Presidents of Universities, Directors, experts in the regions, scholars and students participated in this important event.
By Prof Dr Zahid Anwar, Chairman PEDF, Peshawar, Pakistan