In a concerted effort to champion Open and Distance e-Learning (ODeL) initiatives within the ASEAN region, University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) Chancellor Dr. Melinda Bandalaria, Vice Chancellor For Finance and Administration Dr. Jean Saludadez, Faculty of Management and Development Studies Dean Dr. Joane Serrano,  ASEAN Studies Program Chair Dr. Ricardo Bagarinao, faculty members Dr. Maripres Sarinas and Asst. Prof. Lorena Jean Saludadez, and FMDS Linkages staff Ms. Dona Lyn Piamonte met with the Eminent Person of the Philippines to the High-Level Task Force Post-2025 ASEAN Vision Ambassador Elizabeth Buensuceso, on 14 December 2023 at the Office of the Chancellor Conference Room, UPOU Headquarters, Los Baños, Laguna with the primary agenda of amplifying the UPOU’s presence as an accredited entity affiliated with ASEAN, specifically in relation to its ASEAN Studies Graduate Program. This strategic move aligns with University of the Philippines’ broader vision of providing borderless education, transcending geographical limitations. 

One of the significant action points discussed was the UPOU’s application to attain accreditation as an entity associated with ASEAN. This accreditation would further solidify its connection to the ASEAN Studies Graduate Program and pave the way for heightened promotion across multiple international platforms. Notably, UPOU plans to showcase its academic excellence in ten key embassy posts spanning countries like Thailand, Singapore, Japan, France, Germany, Belgium, Canada, and the United States. The focus will revolve around promoting microcredentials tailored to meet the specific needs of various industries, thereby enhancing employability and industry relevance.

Moreover, a concerted effort involving the UP Alumni Association is underway to encourage alumni to actively participate in different alumni associations abroad. This initiative, bolstered by the support of Ambassadors, aims to foster a robust network and promote UPOU’s offerings to a wider audience, aligning seamlessly with the university’s commitment to borderless education.

Simultaneously, the ASEAN Studies Program within UPOU will be working on preparing requisite documentation for its accreditation as an official ASEAN entity. Ambassador Buensuceso emphasized the need for comprehensive engagement across ASEAN countries, advocating for the establishment of alumni associations not only in major capitals like the US and Canada but also across key ASEAN capitals. In adherence to the ASEAN Charter’s Annex 2, which encourages engagement with civil society groups and think tanks, discussions emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts in academia to further the understanding of ASEAN’s intricacies. The agenda also highlighted courses to be developed such as  ‘ASEAN 225: Games and Sports in ASEAN,’ showcasing the diverse facets of ASEAN studies beyond conventional boundaries. 

The Ambassador’s commitment to fortifying connections, fostering collaboration, and leveraging institutional synergies underscores a visionary approach to promote ODeL and elevate UPOU’s standing as a leading institution within ASEAN’s educational landscape. This concerted effort sets the stage for a transformative leap in education, transcending borders and fostering a culture of academic excellence and collaboration across ASEAN nations. 

Written by: Dona Lyn M. Piamonte • Edited by: Larry Cruz

March 2024
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