Aligned with the overarching objectives of the ASEF Regional Conference on Higher Education (ARC) the official dialogue partner of the ASEM Education Ministers Meeting (ASEMME), the 9th edition of the ASEF Regional Conference on Higher Education (ARC9) places the focus on ASEM Higher Education Mapping: Working Towards the SDGs.

The UN system has declared a Decade of Action in 2020. At this time, only 8 years remain to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The recent COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fragility of whatever achievements have been made toward the SGDs. According to the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020, COVID-19 is reversing decades of progress on poverty, healthcare and education. Innovative tertiary education is of utmost importance in building back better from the recent setback.

ASEF supports the universal call for sustainable development and facilitates initiatives contributing to the SDGs. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) contribute not only to the accomplishment of SDG 4: Quality Education but to all 17 SDGs. Universities all over the world engage with the SDGs and contribute to their achievement. The Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development (HESD) Portal, managed by the International Association of Universities (IAU), registered over 820 actions globally, identifying concrete examples of how to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.

ARC9 Research | May – December 2022

The first year of the biennial project is focused on gathering evidence and mapping out higher education policies and practices in the 51 ASEM Partner countries that work toward the SDGs. Research is currently being conducted for the following two reports:

1| ASEM Higher Education Policy Mapping: Working Towards the SDGs

This study maps the higher education policies advancing sustainable development in ASEM partner countries. Ministries responsible for Higher Education are engaged to support the effort in mapping existing policies that contribute to the SDGs.

Core questions this report seeks answers to the following:

    • To what extent are the ASEM national higher education policies oriented towards the SDGs? How do ASEM higher education policies translate global goals into local goals?
    • Which mission of the universities is the most often targeted (education, research or the third mission)?
    • What kind of policy tools are most often used to promote sustainable development in higher education?
    • What are the most common institutional barriers, and silos and where are the opportunities to leverage in ASEM Partner countries?
2| ASEM University Practice Mapping 2022

This report is prepared in collaboration with the International Association of Universities (IAU) as an ASEM breakout report of their biennial Global Report on Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development (HESD). This report will help showcase developments regarding SD in the higher education sector and help universities implement good practices in sustainability.

Core questions this report seeks answers to the following:

    • How do Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) engage in Sustainable Development (SD)
    • How do HEIs work toward achieving the SDGs;
    • Who is driving these efforts within the institution and who are they partnering with outside of the institution?
    • Which SDGs do HEIs focus on?

Both reports will function as:

    • A basis to improve higher education policy in ASEM countries
    • A prompt for further policy dialogues with ASEM education policymakers, university and student leaders across ASEM countries
ARC9 Policy Dialogues | Feb – Nov 2023

For the second year of ARC9, ASEF will organise policy dialogues based on the findings and recommendations of the research reports prepared in 2022.

The policy dialogues will invite representatives of key stakeholders (students, universities, university associations) and senior officials of the ASEM Ministries of Education.

The results of each dialogue event will be disseminated in a webinar. A comprehensive report will be presented at the 9th ASEM Education Ministers Meeting, as ARC is the Official Dialogue Partner of the ASEM Education Ministers’ Meeting (ASEMME).


ARC9 aims to engage representatives of key stakeholder groups in the ASEM Education Process at different meetings in virtual, hybrid and in-person formats, depending on the public health situation.

Civil Society 

  • University and student leaders, experts in higher education
  • Representatives of University or Higher Education Associations, Student Organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), and International Organisations (IOs) from ASEM Partner countries

Public Sector

  • ASEM Education Senior Officials (SOMs) or their representatives
  • ASEM Education Ministers or their representatives
  • Representatives of national education agencies and other stakeholders of the official ASEM Education Process

A geographical and gender balance as well as a good representation of experts, higher education leaders and students from diverse academic fields will be ensured by ASEF and its partner organisations.


Tangible outcomes

  • Two research-based reports to map higher education policies and practices to advance sustainable development in ASEM Partner countries
  • A series of policy dialogues with stakeholders of the ASEM Education Process, e.g., Senior Officials for Education of the 51 ASEM Partner countries, the EU and ASEAN, university and student leaders, representatives of regional and professional organisations in higher education
  • A series of webinars to disseminate findings and facilitate exchanges, mutual learning and collaboration
  • Expected outreach to at least 1 million online users via different virtual platforms of ASEF

Intangible outcomes

  • Increased understanding and knowledge of the higher education policies oriented towards the SDGs in the ASEM countries
  • Increased knowledge on university practices contributing to the achievement of the SDGs in the ASEM countries
  • New networking opportunities and possible partnerships among participants and their respective institutions
  • Increased capacity of ASEM policymakers to contribute to the SDGs and engage with higher education institutions in this mission
  • Enhanced knowledge among the participants of the ASEM Process and ASEF


In the long-term, the expected impact of ARC9 is to strengthen dialogue and connectivity among higher education stakeholders in Asia and Europe through exchanges and dialogue through:

  • Evidence-based policy dialogues between the ASEM Education stakeholders
  • Content input to the policy dialogue process, towards sustainable education policies to be considered at a national, regional and – representing the Asia-Europe position – global level
  • Increased awareness and engagement on the role of HE in sustainable development
  • Exchange of good practices and networking among higher education stakeholders in Asia and Europe


ARC9 is a platform to engage with the following organisations and create more synergies among the following:

Ministerial Meetings

  • ASEM Education Ministers’ Meeting (and other ASEM Ministerial Meetings)
  • European Higher Education Area Ministerial Meeting (EHEA) and the Bologna Policy Forum Meetings
  • ASEAN Ministers of Education Meeting

Senior Officials’ Meetings

  • ASEM Meeting of Senior Officials in Education (ASEM SOM)
  • Southeast Asian Higher Education Senior Officials Meeting (SEA-HiEd SOM)
  • Asia-Pacific Meeting on Education 2030 (APMED) by UNESCO

 Regional & International Organisations and Initiatives


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