The ASEF Regional Conference on Higher Education (ARC) is the “Official Dialogue Partner of the ASEM Education Ministers Meeting (ASEMME) and the only bi-regional multi-stakeholder dialogue platform for university and student leaders, policy makers and ministers to discuss higher education issues and shape the education landscape in Asia and Europe.

For the past 10 years, ARC has continuously evolved and contributed with various outputs (policy recommendations, research, and events) to the ASEM Education process, and created opportunities for key Asian and European stakeholders to connect. ARC’s role as a valuable dialogue partner has been reiterated at all ASEMMEs, and its outcomes and outputs helped to sustain a dynamic ASEM Education Process.

The ARC programme cycle covers two years and is aligned with the timeline of the ASEMMEs. Its results, including research, policy recommendations, feed into the preparations of ASEM Education Senior Officials’ Meetings (SOMs) and the ASEM Education Ministers Meetings (MEs), which ARC experts are invited to attend.

Past editions of ARC have brought together over 800 university, student and thought leaders representing 430+ organisations from the 51 Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) partner countries to discuss emerging higher education issues concerning both regions and to inform ASEM policy makers. Take a look at the past editions here. ARC contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and builds on synergies with major regional policy discussions.


Facilitate exchange of good practices and networking
among policymakers, universities and student organisations in Asia and Europe

Inform and influence policies
Collect evidence and conduct policy dialogues with stakeholders of the 51 ASEM Partner Countries, the EU and ASEAN


ARC9 Research Reports | May – December 2022

The first year of the biennial project will focus on gathering evidence and mapping out policies in the 51 ASEM Partner countries. Two reports are envisioned in this phase:

1| ASEM Higher Education Policies: Working Towards the SDGs

This report will be prepared by a group of ARC9 researchers. Input for the report will come from exploratory focus group discussions with stakeholders, and a survey distributed among ASEM Ministries responsible for Higher Education.

Core questions that this report will seek answers to:

    • To what extent are the ASEM national higher education policies oriented towards the SDGs? How do ASEM higher education policies translate the global goals into local goals?
    • Which mission of the universities are 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, silos and where are the opportunities to leverage in ASEM Partner countries?
2| ASEM Higher Education and Research for Sustainable Development (HESD) 2022

This report is prepared in collaboration with the International Association of Universities (IAU) as an ASEM breakout report of their biennual 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 that this report will seek to:

    • Better understanding of how HEIs engage with sustainable development (SD)
    • How HEIs work towards the SDGs;
    • Who is driving these efforts within the institution and who are they partnering outside of the institution?
    • Which SDGs are mainly in the focus?

Both reports will serve two main purposes:

    • Serve as a basis for policy improvement in ASEM countries
    • Initiate policy dialogues with ASEM education policy makers, university and student leaders across ASEM countries
ARC9 Policy Dialogues | Feb – Nov 2023

During the second year, 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 face-to-face 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), 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 across:

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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