At a recent Tokyo symposium, the Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) pushed to link two university consortia that share interests in agriculture and related sciences.
On the other hand, 68 universities in ASEAN, Japan and Korea are participating in the ASEAN International Mobility for Students (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, wherein the Philippines is represented by Education Secretary Leonor M. Briones.
At the Tokyo symposium on "Challenges for Campus to Campus, Establishment of Connectivity in Research and Education Beyond Borders" held last month, SEARCA presented the merits of opening the prestigious UC Graduate Forum to the AIMS universities to enable students to attend and present their research results.
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.
"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," SEARCA Director Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. said.
In addition to joining the UC Graduate Forum, Saguiguit noted that RIHED is also considering conducting summer schools and developing massive open online courses for students who cannot go to other countries.
Since the UC has been organizing graduate forums, summer schools and research collaborations and exchanges, Saguiguit said it would be seamless to tie up these activities to those of AIMS. He added that Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and University of Tsukuba have expressed interest in supporting these collaborations by funding the participation not only of students, but also of university faculty and researchers.