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The Forum on “Economic growth and graduate employability: the challenges in meeting the regional quality standards of AUN”
On July 18, 2017, the forum: “Economic growth and graduate employability: the challenges in meeting the regional quality standards of AUN” was held on the sidelines of the AUN Rectors’ Meeting.

The presenters at the forum were: VNU Vice President Nguyễn Hồng Sơn, AUN – QA Expert Johnson Ong Chee Bin, Vice Rector of Kebangsaan University (Malaysia) Imran Ho Abdullah; Chief Executive Officer of Vingroup International University Trần Phương Lan; Head of International Relations - Singapore Management University, Ong Siow Heng.

The forum was designed to promote linkages and mutual understanding between universities and enterprises, thereby contributing to the improvement of the quality of university-level training to meet the increasing demand of the business.

At the forum, the speakers exchanged experiences on challenges to universities in meeting the AUN quality standards as well as practical development requirements; shared the universities’ views on a best preparation for students’ post-graduation life and career.

Referring to the local, regional and global challenges to universities, VNU Vice President Nguyễn Hồng Sơn emphasized three main ones, including: (1) how to combine training with basic research and applied research; (2) how to determine the ratio of knowledge to skills to provide students with; and (3) how to help students adapt to changes after graduation.

Sharing VNU Vice President Nguyễn Hồng Sơn’s viewpoint on the need of a balance in the provision of knowledge and skills, Prof. Imran Ho Abdullah said that the Fourth Industrial Revolution would bring universities both opportunities and challenges. Universities need to make changes to the curriculum and training programs as well as to prepare students for the skills they need to meet real-world requirements.

On behalf of the business, Mrs. Trần Phương Lan said that although higher education had made remarkable changes, it had not yet met the requirements of enterprises. Therefore, the current challenge to universities is the finding of ways to speed up training linked with practice, especially with the needs of the business, in order to meet the rapidly changing requirements of the labour market.

At present, many universities opt to train students in the skills they need for their rapid adaption to the actual market. According to Mr. Johnson Ong Chee Bin – an AUN-QA expert, it was necessary to build such skills for students as solving complex problems; creative, critical thinking, and human resources managing. As for Prof. Ong Siow Heng, he emphasized life-long learning and learning from reality. He also suggested encouraging alumni, who had work experience, to share their experience, support and help students better familiarize with reality.

Concerning the above issue, VNU Vice President Nguyễn Hồng Sơn claimed that such skills as critical thinking, life-long learning, design thinking, corporate training… all played an important role to universities because these skills helped bring students closer to real life, enable them to think creatively and adapt to current rapid changes. VNU Vice President Nguyễn Hồng Sơn also said that VNU was fully aware of its role in creating new knowledge, spreading knowledge and putting it into the actual socio-economic development. Therefore, VNU focuses on training learners in creative thinking through the creation of a learning environment where the learner has all necessary conditions to develop their abilities.

In particular, the VNU Vice President proposed the training of skills for students through specific projects. Thus, students would be able to experience and improve their knowledge and skills through real-world activities while participating in the project where they can learn by themselves and identify the skills which are really necessary and useful.

Concerning the meeting of the regional quality standards, all the presenters thought that it was necessary because that would promote regional cooperation, ensure free migration of skilled labour, strengthen cooperation among the universities and improve institutional training quality in the region. All this would help the region grow in harmony and sustainability.

The meeting of the regional quality standards is facing such challenges as the differences in: the regional education systems; the regional university development levels; the culture, economy development and the governmental policy; and also in the universities’ perception of the need of meeting the regional quality standards.

At the Forum, the delegates also discussed and shared on the issue of skills training for students and ways for the universities to provide them. Many delegates introduced the skills training programs that their institutions had been offering.

 Sinh Vu – Quoc Toan (photos) - VNU Media
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