THE Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) proposed to link two university consortia that share interests in agriculture and related sciences.
SEARCA Director Gil Saguiguit presented during a recent Tokyo symposium the merits of opening the prestigious Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC) Forum to the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) International Mobility for Students (AIMS) Program universities to enable students to attend as well as present their research results.
The Tokyo symposium on "Challenges for Campus to Campus, Establishment of Connectivity in Research and Education Beyond Borders" was held on February 12, 2018.
Saguiguit said that of the 10 major study fields that AIMS focuses on, agriculture, biodiversity, environmental management and science, food science and technology, marine science, and economics align with SEARCA's priority thrusts to promote inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development (ISARD).
"As such, SEARCA sees that drawing in AIMS scholars and researchers to the UC Graduate Forum can be an impetus for collaborations in new research among constituents of the UC and AIMS to boost agricultural and rural development," Saguiguit said.
In 1989, SEARCA launched the UC Graduate Forum and among its members are the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and eight other leading agricultural universities in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Canada, and Germany.
Some 68 universities in ASEAN, Japan, Korea, on the other hand, are participating in the AIMS Programme led by the Bangkok-based Southeast Asian Regional Center for Higher Education (RIHED). Four of the nine UC members are among the 68 universities in the AIMS Programme.
SEARCA and RIHED are two of the 24 centers of excellence and network of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) wherein the Philippines is represented by Education Secretary Leonor Briones.
Saguiguit noted that in addition to joining the UC Graduate Forum, RIHED is also considering conducting summer schools and developing massive open online courses for students who cannot go to other countries.
He said that since the UC has been organizing graduate forums, summer schools, and research collaborations and exchanges, "it would be seamless to tie up these activities to those of AIMS."
Saguiguit said Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) and University of Tsukuba have expressed interest in supporting the collaborations by funding the participation not only of students, but also of university faculty and researchers.