Appendix I: APEC Quality Research Suggestions

One aspect of this meeting was the exploration of possible useful subjects for further research.  These are listed below:

1) Changes in teaching and learning. Across most higher education institutions and throughout the institutions that monitor and grade their quality, issues of changes in teaching and learning seem paramount.  Viewed through significantly different “lenses” depending on national circumstances, the forces impelling such change seem firmly rooted in the rapidly changing ecologies of higher education that have occasioned wide ranges of responses.

2) How is the traditional higher education “entity” of the Asia-Pacific region undergoing change?  As the region continues to develop economically, and as universities are being called upon to play a larger role in the complex activities of economic development, including contributions to the emergent knowledge society, how is the university undergoing change?  Can one begin to identify the Asian-Pacific university as a meaningful hybrid?  How might one go about this research task, and what might be its consequences, especially for the way that traditional universities have been and continue to be organized?

3) How are universities responding to the seemingly omnipresent expectation that they will be leaders in “innovation” and make significant contributions to the economic development of the society within which they are located? What is really meant by this term, and what are the various ways that expectations regarding innovation can be met? A seemingly inseparable aspect of the innovation equation is that of assuring adequate finance for higher education. These two issues stand close to the center of many policy conversations.

4) A part of the issue of innovation and higher education quality is the constantly reoccurring issue of how to educate students with globally relevant competencies—recognizing that: (a) the meaning of this differs country by country, and especially with respect to the relative size of its economy; (b) the topic has both targeted and aspirational roles in the global economy, and that how these work out across different kinds of higher educational institutions is both complex and of critical importance; and (c) such competencies vary significantly with differences in mission and capabilities of types of HEI’s (e.g. “first tier”, second tier, etc.). We need to develop answers to questions such as:  What are such competencies?  Who is doing work on their determination and development?  How do HEI’s need to transform themselves to become skilled in producing such competencies? And—how can higher education systems and their HEI’s assess and monitor the rapid changes taking place in the understandings of what constitutes such competencies?

5) The question of quality literacy.  What is it?  How can it be pursued in a variety of quality assurance settings especially when the structures of higher education are themselves undergoing continuous change? How can the “pedagogy” of quality assurance be developed and transmitted from more highly developed to lesser- developed quality assurance systems? How might we learn to examine quality not only in a higher education context, but also  as part of broader social, economic developments?

6) The question of the constantly changing roles of higher education institutions in environments that are usefully characterized as influenced and determined by the emergent knowledge economy and global interdependence.  One pathway into this issue is to examine the various and multiple functions performed by universities (such as human resource development for economic growth, research and innovation for national competitiveness, and community services for regional development) and the ways that other, alternative social institutions are coming to perform some of these functions.

7) The broad question of the role of education, especially higher education, in the creation of human capital and its various linkages to issues of economic growth. This focus would take into consideration that a country’s existing level of economic growth is both a constraint and a framework for exploring this question and especially issues of comparing data. Within the frame of this question considerable work could be done on the emblematic topic of the alignment issue that in some way besets all the economies in the region and must be dealt with not as an isolated higher education issue, but as a major political economy/policy question that colors all of higher education.

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