The ASEAN Australia Education Dialogue (AAED)
Penang, Malaysia
March 21st to 23rd 2018

In this our final newsletter for AAED 2018 we provide a profile of the delegates by country, document the Dialogue highlights and deliver a selection of the Dialogue presentations. We also announce the preparations for AAED 2019.

The ASEAN Australia Education Dialogue welcomed 135 delegates to the Equatorial Hotel in Penang from March 21st to the 23rd 2018.

Every Australian State and Territory and nine of ten ASEAN nations were represented at the Dialogue.

Dialogue Delegates and Profile

The full list of AAED 2018 Delegates by country can be viewed here.

Dialogue Highlights
The introductory speeches by Michael Fay, Convenor of the Dialogue and Director and Head of Educational Services at ASEAN Focus Group (AFG VG), together with Bernadine Caruana, Counsellor (Education and Science), Australian High Commission, Kuala Lumpur set the tone for the Dialogue. Three stimulating keynote speakers followed and there were five panel discussions and seven workshops covering the key issues. The Penang Chief Minister addressed the Dialogue dinner and offered his insightful comments on Australia and ASEAN whilst emphasizing the state’s passion and commitment to the development of the education sector.

Michael Fay opened proceeding by pointing out in his introductory remarks not only the diversity of nations represented but also the cross-sector nature of the Dialogue:

“Representatives from the Schools, English language, TVET, Universities, Government and the Business Sector are here to share their knowledge and experience and learn from each other. It’s an opportunity to understand what matters and to explore the dynamic opportunities for partnerships in a shared ASEAN Australia future.
Our delegates and panelists are leaders in their fields with practical experience to drive the future of the ASEAN Australia education partnership. They represent early childhood through to post graduate research and lifelong learning. It is an honour to have you here. It is also important to this dialogue that ASEAN and Australian women are strongly and equitably represented”.

Datin Paduka Dr. Siti Hamisah. The Director General in the Dept. of Higher Education in the MOHE welcomed delegates to the Dialogue.  Datin Siti has been a key player in redesigning the Malaysia Higher Education system.

The opening remarks of Bernadine Caruana, referenced the positioning of the ASEAN Australia Education Dialogue within the context of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit 2018:

“Having this Dialogue occur following the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit 2018 that took place in Sydney last weekend is a great way to continue momentum from the Summit, and build on the education outcomes”.

Key Note Speeches

James Wise, former Australian Ambassador to Thailand and former High Commissioner to Malaysia, delivered his keynote speech with a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the history and quality of ASEAN Australia relationships in a journey that started with Australia becoming ASEAN’s first dialogue partner in 1974 and noted that:

“Australia’s low confidence in engaging deeply with South-East Asia springs from a lack of knowledge about South-East Asia and a lack of familiarity with South-East Asia.
No sector is doing more to lift Australian confidence levels, and no sector can do more, than the education sector.  This is why your sector is critical to the longer-term health of the Australia-ASEAN relationship”.

Key Note Speaker Ooi Kee Beng, Director of the Penang Institute, delivered an inspiring address:

“What I wish to do today is to draw your attention to certain factors – certain concepts and dynamics, in fact – that anyone studying Southeast Asia and worrying about its future, or in fact anyone studying any single country in the region, should consider. I will try to describe Southeast Asia in a historical fashion, and through that, I hope to project to you a broad understanding of the region’s challenges and self-image, and of ASEAN’s significance today”.

Ooi Kee Beng concluded his address by drawing our attention to this advice:

“And most important of all really, we need things to happen at the regional level if the region as a whole is to pull itself out of the educational equivalent of the “middle-income trap”. And here, I strongly believe, is where Australian initiatives like this one today can play a strong facilitating role”.

Panel Discussion
Building ASEAN Mobility Across The Education Sector.
This important subject provided a lively discussion on a subject considered to be of great significance within the Dialogue and crucial for connectivity across the region.

Panelist from left are:
Dr Muhizam Mustafa Director of International Mobility and Collaboration Centre USM
Prof Andrew MacIntyre Deputy Vice-Chancellor Global Development RMIT University Melbourne
Me Tristan Walters New Colombo Plan Scholar in Malaysia 2017 from the University of South Australia
Ms Wanpimon Senapadpakorn Director International Relations Division Mahidol University Thailand
Dr Yazrina Yahya Director International Relations Centre Malaysian National University (UKM)

Welcome reception

The Welcome Reception was held at the beautiful Suffolk House where delegates also enjoyed a fascinating history of Suffolk House by local historian Clement Liang.
Originally built in the early 1800’s, the former residence of Francis Light is the only surviving Georgian Mansion in Malaysia. In 2008, it received the prestigious Award of Distinction in the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation.

Gala Dinner

During the Gala Dinner delegates were delighted to receive a Welcome Speech by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who outlined the attractiveness of Penang as a study destination with the presence of a variety of top-class, internationally recognised colleges and universities:

“The state is passionate and committed in the development of the education sector and envisions transforming the education tourism sector into one of the main economic drivers of Penang”.

A report on the speech can be read here and a video presentation of the Chief Minister’s speech together with some highlights of the evening’s entertainment can be viewed here.

Arrival of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng



Dance Performance


Delegate Participation

The Seven Dialogue Workshops
Workshop Themes
During the afternoon of the first day the delegate organised into 7 workshops addressing the following themes:

Education Themes linking ASEAN and Australia
1. Strengthening Engagement between Schools across ASEAN and Australia
2. Building English Language Competency; English as the Official Language of ASEAN
3. Improving Higher Education Sector Mobility between ASEAN and Australia and within ASEAN
4. Developing Vocational Education and Skills Training Partnerships with Business and Industry
5. Building the Quality of Transnational Education Delivery
6. Strengthening Alumni Relations and Enhancing the Student Experience
7. Harnessing Digital Technology for Quality Education

Each workshop explored a set of objectives, examined opportunities and provided a detailed response with a plan for future action. These workshop plans will provide guidance and advice to educational institutions, Government, industry and key stakeholders and the details will be released in our first newsletter for AAED 2019.

Three of the workshops in progress.

Building English Language Competency; English as the Official Language of ASEANThe Dialogue

The Dialogue Venue was the Hotel Equatorial, Penang. Located on a hill with extensive local views, the hotel features an open and spacious design within a beautiful tropical area. Just 15 minutes away from Penang International Airport the Hotel proved to be an ideal location for the Dialogue with excellent professional support from the Hotel management and staff.

The volunteers from the University Sains Malaysia provided excellent assistance in a professional and friendly way at the reception desk and were a credit to the University and the to the state of Penang.

Preparation for AAED 2019
We are about to commence preparations for AAED 2019, starting with an analysis of delegate feedback. We are, however, happy to report this early contribution from Christopher Campbell, Group Managing Director and CEO of Academies Australasia and Sponsor of both the Welcome Reception and the Lanyard at AAED 2018.

“I would like to congratulate you on one of the best conferences that I have attended. The conference addressed an important subject. It was short, sharp and relevant. Presentations were not lost in academic gobbledegook: important issues were addressed by experts who spoke in easy to understand language”

Christopher was well satisfied

Our thanks to all of the delegates, supporters, sponsors, organisers, the Penang Convention and Exhibition Bureau and to the State of Penang for the making this, the inaugural ASEAN Australia Education Dialogue such a great success and for making the AAED’s continuity into the years ahead possible.

 Your invitation to AAED 2019 will be with you shortly.

Best wishes and thank you from the AAED organising team.