The morning of October 28 saw the 2023 Tsinghua Higher Education Forum initiated by Tsinghua University in Beijing, themed by “Higher Education for Sustainable Development: Global Perspectives and Practices”. Anthony Ohemeng-Boama, UNESCO Assistant Director-General, Guan Peijun, Vice President of China Association of Higher Education, and Wang Xiqin, President of Tsinghua University attended the opening ceremony of the Forum, presided over by Yang Bin, Vice President of Tsinghua University.
In his video speech, Anthony Ohemeng-Boama extended his congratulations on the convening of the forum. Ohemeng-Boama emphasized the irreplaceable role of higher education in fostering sustainable, resilient, and peaceful societies. He compared the disparity in higher education access between Sub-Saharan Africa and more affluent regions, advocating for enhanced internationalization and technological integration within educational frameworks. He mentioned the actions taken by the UNESCO towards the sustainable development of higher education, pointing out that the Global Convention on the recognition of qualifications in higher education and the UNESCO Qualifications Passport initiative are significant efforts to augment inclusivity and mobility in higher education. Ohemeng-Boama contended that a higher education framework should be established that aligns with the labor market demands, aiming to alleviate educational disparities, enhance academic mobility, and leverage technological advancements to reshape the global educational landscape.
Ohemeng-Boama underscored the indispensable role of higher education in fostering sustainable, resilient, and peaceful societies. He cited the disparity in higher education access between Sub-Saharan Africa and more affluent regions, urging for greater internationalization and technological integration in educational frameworks. Reflecting on UNESCO's endeavors, he highlighted the Global Convention on the recognition of qualifications in higher education and the UNESCO Qualifications Passport initiative as pivotal strides towards enhancing educational inclusivity and mobility. As he applauded the collaborative efforts among African nations and UNESCO, Ohemeng-Boama envisaged a robust higher education landscape that resonates with the labor market demands, particularly in Africa. His speech delineated a hopeful trajectory towards mitigating educational disparities, enhancing academic mobility, and leveraging technological advancements in reshaping the global educational landscape.
Guan Peijun discussed how to promote sustainable development in higher education. He highlighted the crucial importance of exploring how higher education can achieve sustainability in a complex and ever-changing world. He outlined three dimensions of sustainable higher education: higher education as a part of sustainable development, higher education on sustainable development and higher education for sustainable development. Guan mentioned the "Beijing Initiative", which was formed at this year's World University Presidents' Forum and proposed to promote sustainable development in higher education. He proposed: first, to build an autonomous knowledge system in China; second, to face the world's technological frontier, the main economic battlefield, major national demands and people's health to accelerate the realization of high-level technological self-reliance and self-strengthening; third, to establish global higher education partnerships as a binding force to achieve these goals.
Wang Xiqin extended a warm welcome to all the guests, experts and scholars present at the Forum. He introduced that Tsinghua University initiated the Tsinghua Higher Education Forum in 2022. The first forum, themed "New Roles of Universities in a Changing World", achieved successful results. The 2023 Tsinghua Higher Education Forum focused on "Higher Education for Sustainable Development: Global Perspectives and Chinese Practices".
Wang noted that at the current time, as the world stands at the midpoint of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, human society is facing unprecedented challenges. Education plays a fundamental, strategic and leading role in the development and progress of human civilization, with higher education at the forefront. Higher education must adhere to global sustainable development, strive for innovation and develop transcendent education. Higher education for sustainable development should open the "time axis", connecting humanity's past, present and future; open the "life axis", promoting harmonious coexistence between humans and nature; open the "space axis", fostering cooperation among nations.
Wang emphasized that Tsinghua University has always attached importance to promoting sustainable development, integrating the concept into talent cultivation, scientific research, social service and campus construction. Tsinghua is willing to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with universities around the world, share responsibilities and work together to build high-quality higher education oriented towards sustainable development. He hoped that the guests participating in this forum would engage in lively discussions, inspire each other, and collectively contribute wisdom for the bright future of higher education and the enduring prosperity of human society.
Sub-forum One took place under the theme of "Higher Education for Sustainable Development: Ideas, Knowledge, and Ethics". Getachew Engida, Co-president of China-Africa Leadership Development Center, Tsinghua and former Deputy Director General of UNESCO, presented a keynote report entitled "The Futures of Higher Education in Times of Discontinuous Change". Simon Marginson, professor of Oxford University presented a keynote report entitled "Higher Education, the Nation-state and Global Sustainability". Li Manli, professor at Institute of Education of Tsinghua University, presented a keynote report entitled "A Framework of Chinese Universities for Sustainable Development: The Healthy Relationship Model and its Contributions". Xu Xiuli, professor of China Agricultural University presented a keynote report entitled "Learning from the Field: Cultivating New Talents for Sustainable Development". The Sub-forum was chaired by Huang Futao, professor at Higher Education Center, Hiroshima University.
Many experts and scholars from Institute of Education, Tsinghua University, Graduate School of Education, Peking University, Centre for Global Higher Education, Oxford University, Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong, School of Education, Tianjin University and other global educational institutions participated in the forum.
During the two-day Forum, experts and scholars at home and abroad will focus on ideas and paradigms of sustainable development in higher education, construction and responsibilities of world-class universities, innovation and development in engineering education, and sustainable development education and practices. Sub-forum Two will explore "Building World-class Universities for Sustainable Development" on the afternoon of October 28. On October 29, Sub-forum Three will be held in the morning on "Innovation and Sustainability: Engineering Education for the Future", followed by the Youth Forum in the afternoon on "Youth Perspectives and Actions to Promote Education for Sustainable Development".