‘Digitalisation’ was introduced as one of the 2 transversal themes (besides 'Sustainable Development') within the ASEM Education Process and its 4 priority areas during the ASEMME7 in Bucharest, Romania. In Bucharest, the Ministers concluded that “Digitalisation” can create opportunities to support connectivity and collaboration between Asia and Europe, but also that the ASEM Education Process should adapt itself to the opportunities and challenges of digitalisation and the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Industry 4.0 and Digitalisation in the Seoul Declaration (2017)

Since ASEMME6 and the Seoul Declaration (2017), Industry 4.0 and digitalisation with new opportunities and challenges for education, skills development and employability in Asia and Europe have become another important reference framework for the ASEM Education Process and its priority areas. In the Seoul Declaration, the Ministers agreed that ICT is a useful tool for education innovation to help closing the education gap between different regions and countries and to address the Sustainable Development by contributing to equity and accessibility in education. Technology can be used to create virtual mobility, to increase the attractiveness of education and learning and to support various cooperation activities, including the active use of cyberspace for educational purposes by students, faculties and staff.

DAAD's Conference "ASEM Education in a Digital World: Bridging the Continents, Connecting the People?"

DAAD’s conference under the title “ASEM Education in a Digital World: Bridging the Continents, Connecting the People?” (Germany, November 2018)  was organised against this backdrop of the challenges and opportunities that come with digitalisation. The aim of this conference was to reflect on the topicality and relevance of AEP’s four thematic priority areas – Quality Assurance and Recognition, Engaging Business and Industry in Education, Balanced Mobility, and Lifelong Learning including Technical and to identify needs and potentials in these areas; and finally, to generate policy recommendations. The main conclusions were formulated as below. More details (including the presented research and practice examples which were the basis of the policy recommendations) can be found in the conference report.

  • Boosting exchange between Europe and Asia: Cooperation between Europe and Asia is the main commitment of the Asia-Europe Meeting and its Education Process. Balancing the mobility of young people has been one of the main goals since its initiation in 2008. Balancing the number of students and graduates, studying or working in the partner regions, thus remains a challenge. In this context, digital formats provide new opportunities to connect people, exchange and build trust even without being physically mobile.
  • Promoting ASEM’s cultural Diversity: Compromising 51 Member countries from Asia and Europe, the Asia-Europe Meeting is characterized by a high diversity of different countries, their culture, history and tradition. Aiming for trust and cooperation, partners on all levels need to develop cultural awareness, open their minds and strengthen their intercultural competences. An asset which is not limited to one specific target group but effects all educational sectors and their people, from young students to adults. The development of these competences and the connectivity between cultures can be fostered through digital formats.
  • Quality Assurance and Recognition: Quality Assurance and Recognition build one of the four priorities of the ASEM Education Process. Building trust among higher education systems to promote attractiveness, transparency, comparability and permeability of each system is the common objective set forth in ASEM education cooperation. But digitalisation also leads to new formats in teaching and learning in Europe as well as in Asia. In order to foster exchange and cooperation, also in the field of digital learning, its quality needs to be ensured. Recognition remains one of the major principles for exchange but cannot be realized without assured quality.
  • Industry 4.0 and the Challenge to Skills Development: Digitalisation implies great opportunities for cooperation and exchange. Europe and Asia can learn from each other in order to boost exchange, employability and the competitiveness of people, institutions, countries and regions. Meanwhile, Industry 4.0 and further digital developments demand new skills and competences of young students and graduates. Necessary skills and competences for the demands of the labour market as well as technological developments need to be adapted within Higher Education Institutions.

Establishment of Expert Group on Digitalisation

In order to make use of the opportunities that digitalisation brings for the ASEM Education Process, the German Ministry of Education and Research and DAAD have taken the initiative during ASEMME7 to establish an Expert Group on Digitalisation with policy makers and experts on digitalisation from Europe and Asia. The Expert Group Digitalisation is introduced complementary to the new Standing Working Group. The Standing Working Group (SWG) is established in order to support the AES in its strategic work and to develop a strategy paper and action plan (Strategy 2030) pooling together the outcomes of the various ASEM expert and working groups. The EG Digitalisation complements the work of the Standing Working Group through providing policy input for the Strategy 2030 on topics related to digitalisation and educational cooperation. (cf. ToR Expert Group Digitalisation).