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Hong Kong’s education chief Eddie Ng visited Brussels on 19-20 May to obtain updates of the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme, among other things. The visit included a series of bilateral meetings and a “Tea Gathering” on “International mobility for students in Europe and Hong Kong” co-hosted by ACA and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, one of the official representation offices of the Hong Kong government in Europe.
A tea gathering (??) in the Hong Kong context is similar to a stakeholders’ meeting in Brussels. What was special in it was not the tea, but the gathering of some 20 important stakeholders that are active in the realm of student mobility and/or are interested in further developing EU-China academic cooperation. These included, naturally, ACA members, who play a pivotal role in the implementation of the EU’s mobility programmes at national level, research and education liaison offices like SwissCor, NethER, UKRO, and a number of prominent higher education institutions based in Brussels and nearby regions. Representatives of EURYDICE, EUA, EQAR and the Department of Education and Training of the Flemish-speaking community of Belgium were also present for the dialogue.
The meeting resembled ACA’s typical policy seminars in that it was organised not only to inform but also to inspire all the participants through interactive and open dialogues. At the end of the meeting, the Hong Kong officials gained an impressive overview of the diversity in European higher education and the many stakeholders involved in the field. The European participants were equally impressed by Hong Kong’s holistic approach to education, leading from free childhood education to enhanced public financial support for both incoming and outgoing student mobility.
Interest in EU-China cooperation has been on the rise on both sides. In the past two years, ACA has worked closely with the European Commission, the Mission of China to the European Union, and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Brussels to lay a solid foundation for EU-China academic cooperation. It co-hosted the first meeting of the EU-China Higher Education Platform for Cooperation and Exchange (HEPCE) in April 2013 with the China Scholarship Council and the European University Association. This was preceded by a very well attended ACA European Policy seminar on Europe’s higher education relations with China and Hong Kong held in December 2012, also with the support of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office.
Living up to its name “Academic Cooperation Association”, ACA welcomes increasing cooperation between Europe and other world regions. The upcoming ACA Annual Conference in Bordeaux is dedicated to academic cooperation between Europe and other world regions, which include of course the new centre of gravity - China.