UBC Welcomes Delegation from ASEAN Universities

ASEAN Delegation gathered in front of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre

On November 30, 2023 the Institute of Asian Research at SPPGA and the UBC Office of Global Engagement had the pleasure of hosting higher education professionals from eight Southeast Asian countries. This visit from researchers, academics, and educators comes at an apt moment, marking the one-year anniversary of Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy announcement in November of 2022.

Reflecting on the significance of this visit, Prof. Kai Oswald (SPPGA, Director IAR) remarked: “This is an exciting time for the relationship between Canada and Southeast Asia since Canada’s new Indo-Pacific Strategy recognizes the importance of Southeast Asia and calls for stronger ties with the region. Closer collaboration between universities would have a meaningful impact in short term and bolster people-to-people ties in the longer term… [It is] … really heartening to see representatives from leading Southeast Asian universities visiting UBC’s Institute of Asian Research.”

Hailing from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, these delegates were visiting Vancouver for the Canadian Bureau for International Education conference. This year CBIE attracted sixty participants from Southeast Asia, which is a record-high number of delegates from ASEAN countries at the annual conference.

Activities included a campus tour highlighting the history and symbolism embedded in UBC’s architecture and landscape at campus landmarks such as the X̱wi7x̱wa Library and the Nitobe Memorial Garden. The delegates then convened in the C.K. Choi building for a presentation by The Office of Global Engagement which highlighted various active programs at UBC which promote research, student mobility and capacity building on an international level. The overarching aim of this session was to inform attendees of the many opportunities that colleagues and students from their home institutions could seek at UBC. A networking mixer held afterwards also created space for one-on-one conversations between the visiting delegates, academic leaders from various UBC departments, and Canada’s trade commissioners to Brunei, Cambodia and the Philippines.

Elaborating on the ideas informing this visit, Cheryl Dumaresq (Executive Director, Office of Global Engagement) remarked: “When it comes to impactful collaboration worldwide, it’s all about relationships. And right now, a big focus for the university is Southeast Asia. In fact, UBC is leading higher education in proactive engagement with the region and its universities, government, educational organizations and businesses.”

This visit was built on both momentum created by the recent Indo-Pacific strategy announcement as well as UBC’s longstanding tradition of impactful research in and about Southeast Asia. The Institute of Asian Research at SPPGA, for instance, has been building connections with academics and citizens in this region since 1978 through its Centre for Southeast Asia Research—headed currently by Dr. John Roosa (UBC History).

Prof. Roosa also shared his thoughts on the significance of these connections with us: “It was great to see so many visitors from Southeast Asian universities on the UBC campus. We hope that the visit will lead to an expansion of our existing connections. Students and researchers at Canadian and Southeast Asian universities have much to offer each other. Here at CSEAR, we are pleased to see the renewed interest Canada has in Southeast Asia.”

Interested in taking a deeper dive into the subject?

Read more about the the Centre for Southeast Asia Research at SPPGA.

Get to know the UBC Office of Global Engagement.