Education holds the key to regional growth

30 August 2011

Aart de Geus speaking at the OECD International Forum
Aart de Geus speaking at the OECD International Forum

The importance of higher education to the future growth of the Asia-Pacific region was emphasised today at an International Forum at the University attended by more than 200 people.

The forum, organised by the International Portfolio, included a keynote speech by Mr Aart de Geus, Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, and a series of workshops focusing on public health, food and water security, and future development.

Speaking in MacLaurin Hall, Mr de Geus said education was the key to achieving future social and economic objectives. He noted the 'irresistible trend' of the last 25 years which has seen a doubling of the number of people going into higher education in the Asia-Pacific region.

He said one of the ways in which universities would be deemed successful was by delivering high quality research related to problems of the future. But he warned that there was still too much inequity in higher education, and there was a gulf between the role universities play in society and the role they are perceived to play - which was not helped by controversy over issues such as tuition fees, plagiarism and student unrest. Higher education providers need to come out of their ivory towers to play a meaningful role in the world, he said.

Dr Michael Spence, University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor, said the timing of the forum was particularly appropriate. "This is the right time to be having this conversation as budgets around the world get tighter and tighter, and governments question the value of higher education," he said.

Other speakers included Mr Christopher Langman, First Assistant Secretary in the Trade and Economic Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Australia's former permanent representative to the OECD; Dr Swapan Datta, Deputy Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research; Dr Adrian Blundell-Wignall, Deputy Director of Financial and Enterprise Affairs at the OECD ; Professor Sangkot Marzuki, Director of the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology at Jakarta; and Dr Geoff Gallop, Director of the Graduate School of Government at the University of Sydney.

The forum was organised by the Sydney World Program in partnership with the OECD, and supported by the Department ofEducation, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Contact: Richard North

Phone: 02 9351 3191

Email: 5d5b561056192f470c18162d2b752308560c57126d4e36267c515e