AFG Venture Group Dispatches

Corporate advisory and consultancy in Australia, South East Asia and India.

ASEAN Australia Education Dialogue 2018

April 22nd, 2018


 The ASEAN Australia Education Dialogue (AAED)
Penang, Malaysia
March 21st to 23rd 2018

In this our final newsletter for AAED 2018 we provide a profile of the delegates by country, document the Dialogue highlights and deliver a selection of the Dialogue presentations. We also announce the preparations for AAED 2019.
The ASEAN Australia Education Dialogue welcomed 135 delegates to the Equatorial Hotel in Penang from March 21st to the 23rd 2018.

Every Australian State and Territory and nine of ten ASEAN nations were represented at the Dialogue.

Dialogue Delegates and Profile

The full list of AAED 2018 Delegates by country can be viewed here.

Dialogue Highlights
The introductory speeches by Michael Fay, Convenor of the Dialogue and Director and Head of Educational Services at ASEAN Focus Group (AFG VG), together with Bernadine Caruana, Counsellor (Education and Science), Australian High Commission, Kuala Lumpur set the tone for the Dialogue. Three stimulating keynote speakers followed and there were five panel discussions and seven workshops covering the key issues. The Penang Chief Minister addressed the Dialogue dinner and offered his insightful comments on Australia and ASEAN whilst emphasizing the state’s passion and commitment to the development of the education sector.

Michael Fay opened proceeding by pointing out in his introductory remarks not only the diversity of nations represented but also the cross-sector nature of the Dialogue:

“Representatives from the Schools, English language, TVET, Universities, Government and the Business Sector are here to share their knowledge and experience and learn from each other. It’s an opportunity to understand what matters and to explore the dynamic opportunities for partnerships in a shared ASEAN Australia future.
Our delegates and panelists are leaders in their fields with practical experience to drive the future of the ASEAN Australia education partnership. They represent early childhood through to post graduate research and lifelong learning. It is an honour to have you here. It is also important to this dialogue that ASEAN and Australian women are strongly and equitably represented”.

Datin Paduka Dr. Siti Hamisah. The Director General in the Dept. of Higher Education in the MOHE welcomed delegates to the Dialogue.  Datin Siti has been a key player in redesigning the Malaysia Higher Education system.

The opening remarks of Bernadine Caruana, referenced the positioning of the ASEAN Australia Education Dialogue within the context of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit 2018:

“Having this Dialogue occur following the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit 2018 that took place in Sydney last weekend is a great way to continue momentum from the Summit, and build on the education outcomes”.

Key Note Speeches

James Wise, former Australian Ambassador to Thailand and former High Commissioner to Malaysia, delivered his keynote speech with a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the history and quality of ASEAN Australia relationships in a journey that started with Australia becoming ASEAN’s first dialogue partner in 1974 and noted that:

“Australia’s low confidence in engaging deeply with South-East Asia springs from a lack of knowledge about South-East Asia and a lack of familiarity with South-East Asia.
No sector is doing more to lift Australian confidence levels, and no sector can do more, than the education sector.  This is why your sector is critical to the longer-term health of the Australia-ASEAN relationship”.

Key Note Speaker Ooi Kee Beng, Director of the Penang Institute, delivered an inspiring address:

“What I wish to do today is to draw your attention to certain factors – certain concepts and dynamics, in fact – that anyone studying Southeast Asia and worrying about its future, or in fact anyone studying any single country in the region, should consider. I will try to describe Southeast Asia in a historical fashion, and through that, I hope to project to you a broad understanding of the region’s challenges and self-image, and of ASEAN’s significance today”.

Ooi Kee Beng concluded his address by drawing our attention to this advice:

“And most important of all really, we need things to happen at the regional level if the region as a whole is to pull itself out of the educational equivalent of the “middle-income trap”. And here, I strongly believe, is where Australian initiatives like this one today can play a strong facilitating role”.

Panel Discussion
Building ASEAN Mobility Across The Education Sector.
This important subject provided a lively discussion on a subject considered to be of great significance within the Dialogue and crucial for connectivity across the region.

Panelist from left are:
Dr Muhizam Mustafa Director of International Mobility and Collaboration Centre USM
Prof Andrew MacIntyre Deputy Vice-Chancellor Global Development RMIT University Melbourne
Me Tristan Walters New Colombo Plan Scholar in Malaysia 2017 from the University of South Australia
Ms Wanpimon Senapadpakorn Director International Relations Division Mahidol University Thailand
Dr Yazrina Yahya Director International Relations Centre Malaysian National University (UKM)

Welcome reception

The Welcome Reception was held at the beautiful Suffolk House where delegates also enjoyed a fascinating history of Suffolk House by local historian Clement Liang.
Originally built in the early 1800’s, the former residence of Francis Light is the only surviving Georgian Mansion in Malaysia. In 2008, it received the prestigious Award of Distinction in the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation.

Gala Dinner

During the Gala Dinner delegates were delighted to receive a Welcome Speech by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who outlined the attractiveness of Penang as a study destination with the presence of a variety of top-class, internationally recognised colleges and universities:

“The state is passionate and committed in the development of the education sector and envisions transforming the education tourism sector into one of the main economic drivers of Penang”.

A report on the speech can be read here and a video presentation of the Chief Minister’s speech together with some highlights of the evening’s entertainment can be viewed here.

Arrival of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng

Dance Performance

Delegate Participation

The Seven Dialogue Workshops
Workshop Themes
During the afternoon of the first day the delegate organised into 7 workshops addressing the following themes:

Education Themes linking ASEAN and Australia
1. Strengthening Engagement between Schools across ASEAN and Australia
2. Building English Language Competency; English as the Official Language of ASEAN
3. Improving Higher Education Sector Mobility between ASEAN and Australia and within ASEAN
4. Developing Vocational Education and Skills Training Partnerships with Business and Industry
5. Building the Quality of Transnational Education Delivery
6. Strengthening Alumni Relations and Enhancing the Student Experience
7. Harnessing Digital Technology for Quality Education

Each workshop explored a set of objectives, examined opportunities and provided a detailed response with a plan for future action. These workshop plans will provide guidance and advice to educational institutions, Government, industry and key stakeholders and the details will be released in our first newsletter for AAED 2019.

Three of the workshops in progress.

Building English Language Competency; English as the Official Language of ASEANThe Dialogue

Improving Higher Education Sector Mobility between ASEAN and Australia and within ASEAN

Harnessing Digital Technology for Quality Education

The Dialogue Venue.

The Dialogue Venue was the Hotel Equatorial, Penang. Located on a hill with extensive local views, the hotel features an open and spacious design within a beautiful tropical area. Just 15 minutes away from Penang International Airport the Hotel proved to be an ideal location for the Dialogue with excellent professional support from the Hotel management and staff.

The volunteers from the University Sains Malaysia provided excellent assistance in a professional and friendly way at the reception desk and were a credit to the University and the to the state of Penang.

Preparation for AAED 2019
We are about to commence preparations for AAED 2019, starting with an analysis of delegate feedback. We are, however, happy to report this early contribution from Christopher Campbell, Group Managing Director and CEO of Academies Australasia and Sponsor of both the Welcome Reception and the Lanyard at AAED 2018.

“I would like to congratulate you on one of the best conferences that I have attended. The conference addressed an important subject. It was short, sharp and relevant. Presentations were not lost in academic gobbledegook: important issues were addressed by experts who spoke in easy to understand language”

Christopher was well satisfied

Our thanks to all of the delegates, supporters, sponsors, organisers, the Penang Convention and Exhibition Bureau and to the State of Penang for the making this, the inaugural ASEAN Australia Education Dialogue such a great success and for making the AAED’s continuity into the years ahead possible.

 Your invitation to AAED 2019 will be with you shortly.

Best wishes and thank you from the AAED organising team.



























The AUSTRALIA-ASEAN Council  is acknowledged as a Principle partner in the delivery of the inaugural ASEAN Australia Dialogue. 

The ASEAN Australia Education Dialogue is proud to be associated with the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit 2018.

The ASEAN Focus Group (AFG Venture Group) is acknowledged as a principal partner in the delivery of inaugural ASEAN Australia Education Dialogue.
AFG Venture Group is an Asia and Australia based corporate advisory and consulting firm.

We welcome Study Penang as a Supporter of the Dialogue.
Study Penang serves to establish and market Penang as a centre for educational excellence. The vision of Study Penang is for Penang to be recognized as a centre of excellence in education.

We welcome the Penang State Government as a Supporter of the Dialogue.

Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau (PCEB) is a state bureau established in 2016 to develop the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) industry in Penang.
PCEB aims to position Penang as the preferred location for MICE activities in the region. With its rich UNESCO heritage, thriving multicultural society, state-of-the-art facilities and vibrant natural attractions, Penang offers a truly eclectic tropical experience.

Monash Malaysia
We welcome Monash University Malaysia as a Platinum supporter. Monash University is a premier research-intensive Australian university ranked among the top 100 universities in the world by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and is a member of Australia’s prestigious Group of Eight (Go8). Established in 1998, Monash Malaysia is the third largest campus of Australia’s largest university and was recently rated as an Outstanding 6-star university in the latest Malaysia Rating for University and University College Excellence SETARA-2017. 

ACA is a group of colleges offering more than 248 qualifications across campuses in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, and Singapore.
ACA  colleges have built their reputations on producing exceptional graduates, its graduates are highly sought-after by industry both in Australia and around the world.

At Navitas we believe in the transformative power of education in all people’s lives. Navitas is a world leader in developing and providing educational services and learning solutions, and continually adapts to meet the needs of the changing global environment.
With Navitas locations throughout Australia, North America, Europe, Africa and Asia, and over 80,000 current students, we understand the world’s learning needs.

We welcome the Head Foundation as a Supporter of the Dialogue.The HEAD Foundation, a charitable organisation based in Singapore, aims to influence policies and create positive social impact, which will contribute to the sustainable development of Asia. As a think tank, the Foundation focuses on issues around Human Capital, Education, Leadership and Sustainability.

2018 NEAS Annual Conference 9-11 May 2018, Sydney, Australia.
Each year NEAS hosts over 300 delegates from around the world as its annual conference. It would be great opportunity for you and/or your team to meet and network with other Managers, Director of Studies and Executives and learn from over 30 speakers from Government and ELT affiliated organisations.  This includes many senior staff and teachers at Australian and ASEAN English language high schools, colleges, universities, TAFE and independent centres.
More information and registration at

The New South Wales (NSW) Government, through StudyNSW, works to enhance international students’ experience in Sydney and the Australian State of NSW, and to recognise their contributions to our communities. StudyNSW is driving NSW’s 10-year international education strategy and positioning the State in key markets as a leader in international education that launches global careers.

RMIT is a global university of technology, design and enterprise. RMIT University enjoys an international reputation for excellence in professional and vocational education, applied research, and engagement with the needs of industry and the community.
RMIT is a world leader in Art and Design; Architecture; Education; Engineering; Development; Computer Science and Information Systems; Business and Management; and Communication and Media Studies.

The AIS Leadership Centre is a business division of the AISNSW (The Association of Independent Schools of NSW).
Its mission is to develop authentic, purposeful and visionary people who lead the learning and growth of students, staff and school communities. The AISNSW serves member schools nationally and internationally and includes AIS Global Schools in Hong Kong, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and Papua New Guinea.

We welcome Education Malaysia as a supporter.

James Cook University Australia is ranked in the top 2%* of universities in the world. The university established the Singapore campus of James Cook University in 2003 as part of its expressed intent of internationalising its activities and offers pathways, undergraduate and postgraduate programs in the area of Business, IT, Psychology and Education in Singapore.
For further information on our courses, visit or email

Macquarie University

Uniquely located in the heart of Australia’s largest high-tech precinct, Macquarie brings together over 40,000 students and 2000 staff in one thriving hub of discovery.

Pearson is the world’s leading learning company, with 40,000 employees in more than 70 countries working to help people of all ages to make measurable progress in their lives through learning.


Australian Alumni
Australian Alumni are invited to meet, connect and contribute at the Dialogue and to sign up to the alumni practitioners’ hub at

Successful Graduate
We teach your students how to apply for a job through our online training courses.Please check out our Video presentation hereWith graduate employability now a key point of differentiation in student recruitment, our programs complement your existing services and add value to your offering for future students. Contact Gordon Scott via

IAJN is a social enterprise that connects international students with jobs and internships and engages with industry and events that unite the global community.
IAJN launched in May 2016 and has grown to over 125,000+ members who have returned to Asia after graduating from universities in Australia, US, UK, Canada and New Zealand.

The Mekong Review is proud to be a media partner of The ASEAN Australia Education Dialogue 2018.

AirAsia, the world’s leading low-cost carrier, services an extensive network of over 130 destinations across Asia Pacific. Since starting operations in 2001, AirAsia has carried more than 400 million guests and grown its fleet from just two aircraft to over 200. AirAsia has been named the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline at the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards nine times in a row from 2009 to 2017

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