July 8, 2008 saw the coming together of 11 quality assurance authorities and ministries responsible for higher education of ASEAN member countries in an effort to embrace a common language of quality and work together towards harmonization of higher education policy in the region. With the adoption of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration, the ASEAN Quality Assurance Network (AQAN) was officially established to serve and compliment the strategic needs of this effort.
As the great compression of our world continue to accelerate, the degree of integration in higher education including in this region, becomes more significant and crucial. This creates a constant challenge for regional efforts to cope with the free movement of knowledge and massification of higher education. In addressing the impact of this globalization, the issue of quality and quality assurance and the need for policy shifts towards a flexible and integrated system has raised concerns among governments in this region.
Realizing this, efforts have been done in this region to promote further collaboration and networking among various authorities responsible for higher education. Thus, the idea of a regional network has become the key theme in many academic discussions and meetings. AQAN, as one of the potential outcomes of the ongoing discourses, is hoped to connect ASEAN member countries and create a common ground in the area of quality assurance of higher education.
AQAN certainly cultivates the sharing and enhancement of quality assurance best practices and national capacity building among its members. Subsequently, as AQAN continue to develop, it will perhaps map its way towards an ASEAN Quality Assurance Framework, which will facilitate the recognition of qualifications and cross-border mobility. It is, of course, our ultimate goal to share in the successes of other international networks such as the Asia Pacific Quality Network (APQN), European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) and International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE).
Though AQAN is relatively young and still growing, it is progressively driven by an ambitious, committed and passionate group with great understanding of each other’s system. With these, we look forward for a promising future for AQAN.