The Asia-Pacific region is facing significant changes in higher education – the exponential growth of diverse education providers, increased cross-border mobility and education provision, new credentials and qualifications offered through non-traditional modes and a greater focus on quality assurance and learning outcomes.
In response, the Committee of the Asia-Pacific Regional Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education (Tokyo Convention) highlighted the importance of a “new era for mobility and internationalisation of higher education in the Asia-Pacific through qualifications recognition” (Seoul Statement, 2018). The Tokyo Convention on the recognition of qualifications entered into force in February 2018. To date, the Parties to the Convention are Australia, China, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Turkey and the Holy See and additional countries are nearing completion of their procedures to become a Party.
A strong network of National Information Centres (NIC) is therefore key to the effective implementation of the Tokyo Convention. NICs promote mutual understanding and transparency of national education systems and qualifications, as well as best-practice principles in recognition of qualifications to support quality decisions. In line with the obligations of the Tokyo Convention, each Party agreed to:
- Take adequate measures for the development and maintenance of a National Information Centre that will provide higher education information (Article VIII.3).
- Establish a network of National Information Centres on academic mobility and recognition that shall uphold and assist the practical implementation of this Convention by the competent recognition authorities (Article IX.3.1).
- Appoint a member of their National Information Centre to the network (Article IX.3.2) which will adopt rules and procedures of the APNNIC.
- To the extent possible, meet annually in plenary session (Article IX.3.3) held in conjunction with ordinary sessions of the Tokyo Convention Committee (Rules of Procedure 3.3).
- Collect relevant information from the Parties relating to academic recognition and mobility (Article IX.3.5).
To support operational needs, the role of the Secretariat of the network of national information centres shall be entrusted to the Director-General of UNESCO (Article IX.3.4), and supported by UNESCO Bangkok.
With these mandates, the Asia-Pacific Network of National Information Centres (APNNIC) is hereby established on 20 September 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand.