CEU Provost, Nobel Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi Discuss Higher Education

Budapest, May 7, 2015 – An international team of higher education experts led by CEU Provost and Pro-Rector Liviu Matei had the honor of meeting Nobel Prize recipient and leader of the National League for Democracy in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, and several members of Parliament on April 30 and May 1 in Yangon. Dr. Suu Kyi is chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Education Reform. The meeting was coordinated and also attended by representatives of the International Higher Education Support Program (HESP) of the Open Society Foundations.

CEU in collaboration with HESP have played a significant role in supporting higher education development in Myanmar since 2012. The work to date has included advising universities, national authorities, and local experts regarding a new regulatory framework for the higher education sector. In particular, the focus has been on issues related to adoption and implementation of new regulations supporting university autonomy. A practical handbook on university autonomy prepared at CEU by Matei and Strategic Planning Director Julia Iwinska has become one of the main references in the country for the discussions regarding the reform of higher education.

Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi with members of the education parliamentary committee of the National Democratic League and the CEU/HESP delegation in front of Aung San Suu Kyi's residence in Yangon. Image credit: CEU

CEU faculty have been also actively contributing to faculty development and capacity building efforts in collaboration with the University of Yangon and Mandalay University. Over the past three years, members of CEU's Departments of Political Science, Legal Studies, International Relations, as well as from the Department and the School of Public Policy have visited the country on several occasions to conduct seminars and consult with peers regarding the ongoing reform of university curricula and faculty development in Myanmar.

In addition, CEU regularly hosts faculty members from Myanmar universities in a pioneering fellowship program that offers opportunities for study and observation of teaching, research, curriculum development and administrative practices at CEU. All of these activities have been undertaken in close cooperation and with financial support from the International Higher Education Support Program of OSF.

The team traveling to Myanmar for consultations last week led by Matei, who is also professor of public policy, included:

·Julia Iwinska, Strategic Planning Director and higher education researcher at CEU

·CEU alumnus Koen Geven, currently a doctoral candidate at European University Institute, after earning a Master's in Public Policy from CEU in 2013 with a specialization in higher education policy, also former chairperson of the European Students' Union (2007-08) and member of the board of the Accreditation Organization of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO),

·Klemen Miklavic, higher education researcher affiliated with the Centre for Educational Policy Studies, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia and former European and Slovenian student leader, and

·Professor Sauwakon Ratanawijitrasin, former director of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization's Regional Center for Higher Education and Development and associate professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Mahidol University, Thailand.

The meetings with Dr. Suu Kyi, who is also chair of the Yangon University Revitalization Committee, and her team followed a two-day workshop with the leadership of the Universities of Yangon and Mandalay, the flagship universities of Myanmar, which are currently in the process of drafting their first internal charters based on the principles of autonomy.

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