Riyadh - The Ministry of Higher Education (KPT), Saudi Arabia, through the Center for Higher Education Research and Studies (CHERS) has agreed to collaborate with the Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia in organizing the Global Higher Education Forum (GHEF) 2009, which will be held in Penang from 13-16 December 2009.
Malaysia has signed a Cultural and Scientific Collaboration Agreement with the Saudi Arabian government in the field of higher education on 31 January 2006 to renew the agreement that was signed in 1976.
Among others, the agreement enables both parties to exchange experiences and scientific expertise, encourage the publication of scientific books and reference materials related to higher education and support efforts for the translation of publications for higher education.
In May 2006, the then Minister of Higher Education, Dato Mustafa Mohamed made an official visit to several institutions of higher learning in Saudi Arabia.
The cooperation in organizing the GHEF 2009 is an extension of the understanding between both nations to further consolidate the relationship between the institutions of higher learning in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. GHEF 2009 is organized by USM and the National Institute for Higher Education Research (IPPTN), under the purview of the Ministry of Higher Education together with the support of the Association of African Universities and the Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration.
During the meeting held at the CHERS office in conjunction with the official visit by the USM delegation to Saudi Arabia, the Director of CHERS, Dr. Abdulhalem A. Mazi said that CHERS is ready to cooperate with the Malaysian Higher Education Ministry and USM not only in organizing the Forum but also in mapping out the continuing framework for the long term.
He said that CHERS hopes to increase the Bahasa Malaysia and English reference materials published by IPPTN for translation into Arabic.
"This will enable the various parties in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries to share the experiences and efforts implemented by Malaysia in improving the quality of higher education to meet future challenges," he said.
"CHERS also hopes to share experiences with participants and educationists attending the Forum with regard to future strategies that have been planned and to present the actions that have been taken to change the landscape off higher education in Saudi Arabia, said Abdulhalem.
The USM delegation, led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Tan Sri Dato Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, also comprised the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student Affairs), Prof. Omar Osman and several researchers involved in research activities with several institutions of higher learning in Saudi Arabia.
According to Prof. Tan Sri Dato Dzulkifli, this sort of collaboration is important in ensuring that Institutions of Higher Learning (IPT) especially in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia can collaborate in sharing available expertise to benefit from knowledge, especially in the field of science and technology.
"The expertise and knowledge among the IPTs in the Arab countries and Malaysia is useful, what more to create a data to show where our common strengths lie. This will help us to carry out efforts which are planned well and we do not have to limit ourselves to collaboration with IPT in the West and Europe," said Prof. Tan Sri Dato Dzulkifli.
So far, there has been close collaboration with academicians from various organizations and associations world-wide, through the Association of Southeast Asian Institutions of Higher Learning, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Association of African Universities, the European University Association and the International Association of Universities.
"GHEF 2009, to be held in Penang will be the best forum to bring together all IPT especially those from developing countries to explore various issues that are important in order to strengthen the existing networks," said Prof. Tan Sri Dato Dzulkifli.
The inaugural GHEF was held in 2007, and this time the theme of the Forum will be Global Higher Education: Current Trends, Future Perspectives which will explore various issues on harmonizing higher education in developing countries through official collaborative ties and networking.
It is hoped that the Forum will go beyond the usual paradigms and discussions and emphasise consolidated efforts to promote study programmes in developing countries.
According to Prof.Tan Sri Dato Dzulkifli, global issues in the context of the needs of the developing countries will be the focus of discussion and analysis in order to discover the effects of global issues on higher education in the 21st century. It is also to determine the directions and future of higher education in line with the various changes that are occurring throughout the world, including the economic recession.
He added that the Forum will also look into the suitability of higher education based on the environmental challenges that involve personal values and efforts to extend its access in society, what more to link higher education with the process of enculturation of humanitarian values and sustainability in the society as a common priority.
GHEF has selected two sub themes, that is, "Higher Education Regionalisation and Harmonisation: One Model Fits All?" and "Higher Education in a Globally Competitive World - From a Tradable to a Competitive Commodity" with the primary questions being "Should higher education be made a tradable commodity?; Cross- border Higher Education and Internationalisation: Is it worthwhile?and Global and Higher Education Benchmarking:Who benefits?
"The meeting this time is most timely to discuss higher education issues that involve countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa and more so in the present economic climate that eis encouraging developing countries to spread their wings in other regions like Latin America, Asia and Africa," he went on to add
Prof.Tan Sri Dato Dzulkifli said that with the participation of IPTs from Arab countries, it is hoped that GHEF 2009 will complete the process and the existing network of cooperation in developing countries especially in the Middle East, Latin America and Africa.
For GHEF 2009, CHERS will assist in terms of financial sponsorship and will also send a delegation to share experiences and publications that have been carried out.
Further information on GHEF 2009can be obtained from http://www.gheforum.usm.my/2009/