International Collaboration Ever More Important to Rebuild the Post-pandemic World
Professor Rocky S. Tuan (upper left) is confident that the global higher education sector will emerge stronger after the COVID-19 pandemic.
While COVID-19 has disrupted the fundamental operational mechanism of the higher education sector worldwide, Prof. Rocky S. Tuan, Vice-Chancellor and President of CUHK, is optimistic that the sector will emerge stronger after the pandemic with a renewed commitment in global partnership.
Professor Rocky S. Tuan shared his views at a panel discussion comprising presidents from three continents at the Universities UK International’s International Higher Education Forum 2021 on 14 April 2021, where they examined whether systems around the world are radically reforming international activities in response to COVID-19.
Chaired by Professor Dame Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor, University of Liverpool, other speakers on the panel were Professor Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge; Professor Margaret Gardner, President and Vice-Chancellor, Monash University; and Mr. Jude Sheeran, Principal, International Education and Research, Amazon Web Services.
Professor Tuan compared the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to a tsunami which has seriously disrupted the fundamental operational mechanism of the knowledge business that universities are in. He observed that with widespread adoption of online learning, information collection and transfer now is largely done on the cloud. With less safe-guarding and monitoring of these collections of information, they may become contaminated and result in misinformation. The ability or rather the inability to control this will have dire consequences. Professor Tuan urged universities to use their collective efforts to address this as our world, very much like the internet, is borderless.
Professor Tuan also called for stronger international collaboration in what he described as the ‘three-legged stool’ of higher education, namely education, research and service. In particular, he urged for greater collaboration in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which serve as unifying themes for different communities of people across the globe. He considered that SDG10, the goal of reducing inequalities, as the most important one as it is the root of many different societal problems. He illustrated this by citing CUHK’s global engagement efforts including a Virtual Student Exchange programme launched last fall under the Association of Pacific Rim Universities which has attracted participation from 26 universities across four continents.