SEAMEO RIHED’s ASEAN International Mobility for Students (AIMS) Programme
 
Summary of the AIMS Programme
          SEAMEO RIHED’s the ASEAN International Mobility for Students (AIMS) Programme is a regional collaborative programme providing multilateral platform to promote and enhance student mobility. The governments of the member countries provide scholarships to students in selected universities from their respective countries to study in university in another country. The Programme contributes to the development of qualified globalized human resources, as well as promotes regional collaboration and integration, particularly to becoming ASEAN Community.
          The AIMS Programme began in 2010 as a pilot project among Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand coordinated by SEAMEO RIHED. With growing regional and international interest in the Programme, AIMS has expanded to include 7 member countries including Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Japan. The Programme currently covers 10 study fields, including Hospitality and Tourism, Agriculture, Language and Culture, International Business, Food Science and Technology, Engineering, Economics, Environmental Management and Science, Biodiversity and Marine Science. By the end of 2014, a total of 61 higher education institutions have been nominated by their respective governments to participate in the AIMS Programme, and thus far over 1200 students had participated in the exchange.
          As the Programme secretariat, SEAMEO RIHED envisages a greater role for the AIMS as a multilateral platform through which to promote balanced student mobility, foster academic exchange and research collaboration, contributing harmonization of higher education for the region and beyond.
 
Programme Objectives
          The ASEAN International Mobility for Students Programme aspires to create a vibrant programme for the citizens of all SEAMEO Member Countries, as well as countries outside of the region, and promote the mobility of students in order to establish a common higher education area, cultivate globalised human resources for the region, so as to foster internationalization of regional higher education system.
 
Programme Background and History
1. Initiation phase (2008-2009)
          With the vision of integration and harmonization on higher education in Southeast Asia, “A Framework for Regional Integration in Higher Education in Southeast Asia: The Road towards a Common Space” was proposed by higher education policy makers via SEAMEO RIHED, and was endorsed by the Council of Southeast Asian Ministers of Education during the 43rd SEAMEO Council Meeting in March 2008. In the proposal, the Enhancement of Student Mobility was identified as one of the priority areas that will advance the regional higher education harmonization and development. In 2009, to facilitate and promote student mobility in the region, SEAMEO RIHED initiated the Malaysia-Indonesia-Thailand (M-I-T) Student Mobility Programme. Two preparatory meetings were organized in August and December of the same year. The meetings agreed:
  • To launch a pilot programme in 2010 for undergraduate students.
  • To set up targets: by 2010, 150 students from 3 member countries will be supported to join the exchange programme in 5 selected study fields; by 2013, student number will be increased to 300, 2 more study fields will be added as well as member countries; by 2015, it is expected to have 500 exchange students, 10 study fields and 10 member countries.
  • The 5 original study fields were Hospitality and Tourism, Agriculture, Language and Culture, International Business, Food Science and Technology.
  • The student mobility programme is based on the principle of reciprocity. The agreed number of exchange students is based on the bilateral agreement of home and host university.
          An initiative to expand participating countries to include ASEAN+3 countries (China, Korea and Japan) by 2015 was proposed and supported by the 32nd SEAMEO High Officials Meeting, held in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2009.
2. Pilot phase (2010-2011)
          The M-I-T Student Mobility Programme was launched in 2010. In total, 23 universities (6 Malaysian universities, 11 Indonesian universities and 6 Thai universities) were nominated to join the programme, and 117 students took part in the pilot phase. In 2010, it was agreed that regular semiannual programme review meetings would be organized to follow up on programme progress and plan for the following year.
          In 2010, during the 45th SEAMEO Council Conference, the M-I-T Student Mobility Programme progress and development plan was reported. The Conference approved of programme expansion of at least 500 students, 10 study fields and 10 countries in Southeast Asia and beyond by 2015. By the end of 2011, with the same number of participating universities in the three member countries, approximately 270 students participated in the Programme.
3. Growth & Expansion phase (2012- present)
          With the success gained in the last two years, the Programme entered into an expansion phase. To accommodate programme expansion, the name of the Programme was changed to be the ASEAN International Mobility for Students (AIMS) Programme, with the consensus of member countries and participating universities in 2012. Meanwhile, Vietnam joined the Programme. As agreed at the 4th Review Meeting of the AIMS Programme, two more study fields were added, namely Engineering and Economics. By the end of 2012, more than 450 students had participated in the AIMS. In the same year, Brunei Darussalam and the Philippines expressed interest to join the Programme.
          In April 2013, the Letter of Intent on the ASEAN International Mobility for Students (AIMS) Programme was signed by participating countries (Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, and the Philippines) at the 7th Meeting of Directors General, Secretary General and Commissioner of Higher Education in Southeast Asia. By June 2013, the AIMS Programme welcomed the participation of Japan as its newest member, and an Addendum to the Letter of Intent was signed in Tokyo by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan (MEXT).
          During the 7th Review Meeting of the AIMS Programme in 2014, member countries proposed to expand study fields from 7 to 10 including Hospitality and Tourism, Agriculture, Language and Culture, International Business, Food Science and Technology, Engineering, Economics, Environmental Management and Science, Biodiversity and Marine Science. Possibilities for other ASEAN member countries, such as Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar as well as Korea and China were also discussed. By the end of 2014, a total number of 61 higher education institutions have participated in the AIMS Programme, which had involved more than 1200 students exchanged among the member countries. In the same year, at the 8th Review Meeting, the discussion on the AIMS Programme 2nd Five -Year Development Plan was raised as well as the agreement to reduce the Review Meeting from twice to once a year beginning from 2015.
          During the 9th Meeting of Directors General/Secretary General/Commissioner of Higher Education in Southeast Asia organized on 7 July 2015 in Vientiane, Lao PDR, the issues on financial contraint were raised. The Meeting also agreed that due to the financial limitation of each national budget, flexibility should be allowed to universities and students to shoulder expenses. SEAMEO RIHED invited Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Korea to attend the 9th Review Meeting of the AIMS Programme, to be held in Japan on 22-23 October 2015 as observers.
          In addition, after having explored the possibilities to join the AIMS Programme together since early 2015, the Ministry of Education, Korea submitted the Letter of Interest to SEAMEO RIHED. The proposal of Korea will be presented at the 9th Review Meeting of the AIMS Programme.
          At the present, there are 64 universities from ASEAN and Japan have joined the AIMS Programme and by the end of 2016, 100 universities from the participating countries are expected to join the AIMS Programme.
4. Supporting Mechanism: the AIMS Review Meetings
          The Review Meeting of the AIMS Programme provides participating Ministries and higher education institutions to update progresses, consulate and plan for future development. The Review Meeting provides a plat form setting for all participants, both from academic fields and International Relations Offices (IROs) of the HEIs and also government representatives, to share information, address and tacking existing challenges, propose improvement for the Programme, and plan for greater expansion and further collaboration.
          The Review Meetings were held twice a year during 2010-2014. Considering the financial burden of host countries as well as national delegates, it was collectively agreed to reduce the frequency of the AIMS Review Meeting to only once a year from 2015 onward. The Meeting takes at least two days in a format of plenary sessions, study fields, concurrent session and also university visits. Each of the participating Government takes turns to host the Meetings.
Table 1. Review Meetings of the AIMS Programme
Meetings Date Venue
1st Review Meeting of the M-I-T Programme 31 January - 1 February 2011 Bangkok, Thailand
2nd Review Meeting of the M-I-T Programme 24-25 September 2011 Bali, Indonesia
3rd Review Meeting of the M-I-T Programme 16-17 March 2012 Penang, Malaysia
4th Review Meeting of the AIMS Programme 15-16 November 2012 Hue City, Vietnam
5th Review Meeting of the AIMS Programme 9-10 May 2013 Yogyakarta, Indonesia
6th Review Meeting of the AIMS Programme 22-23 November 2013 Chiang Rai, Thailand
7th Review Meeting of the AIMS Programme 8-9 May 2014 Manila, Philippines
8th Review Meeting of the AIMS Programme 2-3 December 2014 Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
9th Review Meeting of the AIMS Programme 22-23 October 2015 Tsukuba, Japan
 
Core Values of the AIMS Programme
1. Strengthening multilateral collaboration
          It is noteworthy that multilateral collaboration gradually stands out in all levels of collaboration, institutional, regional, and international. The era of knowledge economy has come, "knowledge" and “education” have become a key resource for economic growth and development. The development of regional community and harmonization of higher education systems can be best achieved through multilateral collaboration, by involving counterparts from Southeast Asian countries and beyond. Moreover, multidimensional supporting mechanisms can be further developed through harmonization process. The AIMS Programme provides member countries, higher education institutions, academic and management participants with opportunities to access and utilize multilateral platform to expand and strengthen academic and innovative collaboration network
2. Enhancing management and communication capacity of International Relation Officers
          Stimulated by globalization, Southeast Asian countries start to review their higher education systems and undertake various reform strategies to strengthen their higher education competitiveness at the regional and global settings. International Relations Office (IRO) is a crucial actor in implementing those strategies and facilitating an effective flow of students, academic professionals, researchers, and faculty members in the region. Active communication, competent services for international exchange, inclusive of mind-sets on diversity and multicultural environment reflect the professionalism and efficiency of IROs, thus within the AIMS Programme, the management and communication skills of international relation offices is improved and further enhanced through international student placement process, partnership management, as well as services planning and development for international students.
3. Promoting academic excellence
          To promote academic excellence of the AIMS Programme, governments are requested to enlist qualified higher education institutions (HEIs) to participate. In addition, to embrace and reflect regional consensus and allow for balanced mobility, it is collectively agreed to focus on the 10 study fields, including Hospitality and Tourism, Agriculture, Language and Culture, International Business, Food Science and Technology, Engineering, Economics, Environmental Management and Science, Biodiversity and Marine Science. To support student exchange and ensure education quality under the AIMS Programme, participating HEIs are required to match courses under each of the study field, so that curriculum can be optimized and be recognized by counterparts. In addition, the establishment of an on-going academic network would nurture possibility of research collaboration in respective fields. Furthermore, with multilateral settings, student exchange can be managed at a large scale rather than a case by case basis.
4. Sharing “Good Practices”
          To reflect lesson learned, recognize institutional accomplishments, so as to monitor the implementation of the AIMS Programme, with the facilitation from SEAMEO RIHED, “good practices” are shared during the review meetings for the Programme which have been held twice a year from 2010-2014 (from 2015 onward, the Review Meeting will be held once a year). With positive feedback from participating HEIs, “good practices” sharing is considered as a crucial part of the Programme, and being recognized as the benchmark for institutional internationalization.
5. Improving people-to-people connectivity and cross-cultural life skills
          The AIMS Programme is widely recognized as a flagship Programme under the principle or concept of People-to-People connectivity improvement. It brings students from Southeast Asian member countries and beyond together by promoting deeper social and cultural understanding, preparing them with cross-cultural life skills and experience, leading to interfacing national and ASEAN identity.
 
Benefit from the AIMS Programme
          Joint efforts done by member countries will further contribute to the process of ASEAN integration and community building and promote ASEAN’s student participation in the process of ASEAN integration. In addition, the profile and visibility of Southeast Asian higher education will be enhanced. It also fosters and contributes to capacity building toward internationalization of higher education system, through which international mobility will be promoted.
          The AIMS Programme provides opportunity for selected institutions to actively engage in a regional exchange programme, which will support capacity building of HEIs International Relations Office to deliver effective procedures of international education. Through coordination with other HEIs, the processes to accommodate international students can be refined, international atmosphere and on-going networks can be nurtured and improved.
          It is expected that by joining the AIMS Programme, students will be prepared with essential skills to live in a multicultural environment while academic capacity will be improved through knowledge exchange and showing thus international competency will be lifted. The Programme also aims at generating a strong sense of ASEAN citizenship, as part of the readiness toward ASEAN Community in 2015, and laying a foundation for a great asset for the future.
 
The 2nd Five-Year Development Plan of the AIMS Programme
          SEAMEO RIHED’s ASEAN International Mobility for Students (AIMS) Programme is the continuation of the Malaysia-Indonesia-Thailand (M-I-T) Student Mobility Programme initiated since 2008 and first launched in 2010 and renamed as AIMS in 2012. From 2008 to 2015, this collectively initiated student mobility programme has experienced its development stages of establishment, pilot, growth and expansion, now turned into a wellrecognized student mobility programme in Southeast Asia and beyond.
          In 2010, during the 45th SEAMEO Council Conference, in the Philippines, the M-I-T Student Mobility Programme progress and development plan were reported. The Conference approved of programme expansion to ensure at least 500 students, 10 study fields and 10 countries in Southeast Asia and beyond by 2015. By the end of 2014, there were over 1200 students supported by government scholarships to study in other member countries in the collectively agreed 10 study fields. To reach the goal of 10 member countries of Southeast Asian region, SEAMEO RIHED is working closely with the higher education authorities in Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Myanmar to seek alternative ways in engaging their higher education institutions (HEIs) to participate in the AIMS Programme. To reflect the establishment of ASEAN Community, the AIMS Programe welcomes the participation of Singaporean universities. In addition, Korea has expressed its interest to join the AIMS Programme and in-country preparation has been started.
          To ensure a firm establishment of current programme structure and further promote regional collaboration, during the 8th Review Meeting of the AIMS Programme, in Brunei Darussalam, the issue of the AIMS Programme 2nd Five-year Development Plan has been raised and discussed. Summary of national plan on the AIMS Programme from 2016-2020 is shown as below:
Country National Plan and Suggestions to the Programme
Brunei Darussalam 1. Programm expansion to include more study fields and member countries
2. Need for online platform to facilitate the student applications
Indonesia 1. Increase government scholarships (100 in 2015)
2. Programme expansion to consider staff mobility
Japan 1. Continuous support to the AIMS Programme
Malaysia 1. Increase budget allocation to the AIMS Programme
2. Target on 250 outbound students in 2019
3. More study fields/disciplines
4. Involve industrial collaboration and contribution
5. Expand to graduate/post-graduate students
The Philippines 1. Increase budget allocation to involve more students
Thailand 1. ASEAN student mobility as priority
2. Continuous support to the AIMS and iAward Programme
Vietnam 1. Continuous support to the AIMS Programme
 
AIMS Programme Stratistic
University Academic Year 2010 Academic Year 2011 Academic Year 2012 Academic Year 2013 Academic Year 2014 Academic Year 2015 Total
In
bound
Total
Out
bound
In
bound
Out
bound
In
bound
Out
bound
In
bound
Out
bound
In
bound
Out
bound
In
bound
Out
bound
In
bound
Out
bound
IPB - Bogor Agricultural University/Indonesia 2 3 3 5 5 5 5 5 10 5 5 4 30 27
Universiti Sains Malaysia/Malaysia 5 5 4 2 5 2 5 2 5 3 2 3 26 17
Universiti Putra Malaysia/Malaysia 0 2 4 2 5 0 5 2 1 0 2 2 17 8
Universiti Teknologi MARA/Malaysia 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 8 2 11 0 21 5
Nong Lam University/Vietnam 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 1 4 1
Universiti Brunei Darussalam/Brunei Darussalam 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 3 0
University of Tsukuba/Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 1 2 3 4
Total 5 8 12 10 15 7 15 10 26 12 28 12 104 62
 
For more information (The 9th Review Meeting)


 
 
   
   

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