Keynote 1 by Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dato Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, Rector International Islamic University Malaysia ©

British Council 

Organised by the British Council in collaboration with the Association of Commonwealth Universities

  • Date   : 31 October 2019
  • Venue: DoubleTree Hotel, Kuala Lumpur 
  • Time  : 9.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m

On 31 October 2019, higher education institutions (HEI) representatives, policy makers, civil society organisations and corporates involved in social innovation gathered in Kuala Lumpur for the UK-East Asia Higher Education Forum. The one-day event was organised by the British Council in collaboration with the Association of Commonwealth Universities. The delegates looked into the contribution of universities in local, regional and global development through the lens of innovation.

Through three focused panel discussions and keynote presentations on innovative approaches, the multi-sectoral stakeholders explored their roles in higher education to create student-centred engagement curricula, integrate social innovation and entrepreneurship in the mission statement, as well as leading research innovation in consortium or cross-regional partnerships.

Since the establishment in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are often used as a framework to measure research impact in the universities. Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dato Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, Rector of International Islamic University Malaysia, urged the HEI players to exert a paradigm shift to humanize the higher education system, in order to prepare for the capacity and capability to reach the 17 SDGs and 169 targets. When sharing experience in students’ engagement, the first panel emphasized on the importance of fulfilling learners’ potential by problem solving in the real world, instead of conventional classroom learning. These “new” learners appreciate more tangible impact as a result of their practical stints with social ventures or community in need.

Mr. Paul Sternberg, director of Design Innovation and Principal Research Fellow of Ravensbourne University challenged the idea of universities to become truly civic and co-create solutions with local stakeholders. As one of the thirty-nine specialist universities in design and innovation, Ravensbourne University strives to be a civic university with a third mission to improve people’s lives, and social innovation is recognized as the bottom-up tool for civic engagement at the local level. The Living Lab concept was also constructively discussed during the second panel of the day. Teaching and learning have to evolve and be open for external stakeholders such as the community, who can be the real “teachers” in the ecosystem.

William Henry Clune speaks during panel 'Innovation in Research' ©

British Council

Paul Sternberg, Ravernsbourne University London at the Going Global Legacy forum, 'The UK-East Asia Higher Education Forum 2019' ©

British Council 

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We were founded in 1934 and incorporated by Royal Charter in 1940.  We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. We do this by making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.

Since hosting the Going Global 2018 conference in Malaysia in 2018, the British Council has undertaken a series of activities to deep dive into the common HE priorities especially in the space of future internalisation and collaboration strategies between the UK and the East Asia region.  The present forum is especially important to catalyse pertinent discussions in the priority area of ‘innovation’, given that the theme for Going Global 2020 focuses on the global learner of the future, their journey to becoming a global innovator and how this shapes global learning institutions.

About the Association of Commonwealth Universities

The ACU is an international organisation dedicated to building a better world through higher education.  We believe that international collaboration is central to this ambition. By bringing universities together from around the world – and crucially the people who study and work within them ‒ we help to advance knowledge, promote understanding, broaden minds, and improve lives.

We champion higher education as a cornerstone of stronger societies, supporting our members, partners, and stakeholders as they adapt to a changing world. Our newly established Higher Education and the SDGs Network will support university efforts to directly engage in the SDG agenda – for example, through integrating sustainable development into their operations, sharing SDG learning content and materials, or developing SDG-focused research strategies. It builds on our longstanding role as a champion of the importance of higher education in sustainable development and experience of convening networks that tackle global challenges.

Leaders in respectable consortiums also showcased the track records of cross-border partnerships in research on top of an already remarkable scaling of output in the country. The concept of many-to-many partnership in research, such as the “UK-Jiangsu 20+20 World Class Universities” initiative, sparked interests in the audience followed by conversations about impact assessment in the highly expansive research footprint. Mr. Phuoc Nguyen from Duy Tan University introduced the Passage to ASEAN (P2A) network. With the vision of the ASEAN Charter: “One Vision, One Identity”, P2A is driven by the need for regional solidarity and shared responsibility towards people and society as a whole. The P2A journeys equip learners with enhanced cultural understanding of key member countries through immersive experience.

The diverse expertise in the audience helped to draw out ideas and to synthesise nuggets of insights in the breakout sessions.  Five groups of educators presented their ‘sweet spot of social innovation’ - the intersection of aspiration, assets and market realities in the context of higher education. The day concluded with a unifying voice that students should be at the centre of driving change, and HEIs are the catalysts on the path of sustainable development.

The day concluded with a unifying voice that students should be at the centre of driving change, and HEIs are one of the key catalysts on the path towards sustainable development.