Major events in Thailand and Canada

                    During September and October 2014, two events took place on opposite sides of the world, with remarkable alignment between their outcomes and the sense of purpose of their participants. In Chiang Mai in Thailand, the third Asia Europe Education Workshop was organised around the theme “Beyond the Academic Benchmark – Societal excellence in higher education” by the Asia-Europe Foundation. Shortly after this, in Montreal in Canada, the European Access Network organised the first World Congress on Access to Post-secondary Education.
In Thailand, the small and carefully selected group of leaders of academia and industry, researchers and students from Asia and Europe discussed common challenges for reaching 'societal excellence' – a term used to encompass everything from access and support to employability and civic responsibilities of graduates.These issues are made all the more challenging in the face of intense international competition between countries and universities and at a time when the world media gives so much credence to the academic rankings of universities.How can countries and universities become leaders in social responsibility while every pressure is put on them to produce tiny numbers of specialist graduates?
In Montreal, there was a much larger gathering drawn from the access movement globally engaged in deep debate on how post-secondary education can become a real prospect for as many people in the world as possible. This staggeringly broad agenda covered issues from financial mechanisms and recruitment strategies to science in society for children and the recurring issue of gender equality in higher education.


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