Follow Us:

Asia-Pacific higher education: ‘Sydney Statement’ sets out actions for improved comparability and recognition of qualifications

PRESS RELEASE - Thirty countries agree on plan to address challenges facing region’s burgeoning number of internationally mobile learners; New Bureau of the Regional Convention Committee established to put action plan into effect

Copyright: gui jun peng @ Shutterstock


BANGKOK, 22 AUGUST – Asia-Pacific is a global leader in internationally mobile students; however, too many of these learners are hindered by a lack of common understanding in the recognition of higher education qualifications across the region.

Representatives from more than 30 Asia-Pacific countries recently agreed to the “Sydney Statement,” which outlines key actions to improve this situation, as well as the formation of a coordinating bureau to ensure they are carried out.

The Sydney Statement was announced at the conclusion of the 14th Session of the Regional Committee on the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education in Asia and the Pacific, which was held in conjunction with the Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop on Education 2030: Connecting qualifications frameworks, quality assurance and recognition for mobility and employability held from 17-18 August, 2016.

The forward-looking Sydney Statement highlights the connections between effective international recognition principles and promoting quality education in order for knowledge, skills and competencies to be recognized as widely as possible. This vision for fair and effective recognition practices aligns with that of the Education 2030 agenda and its core focus on equitable quality education.

The Sydney Statement underlines the important role of international collaboration to facilitate recognition and mobility in a fair and transparent way. The statement is particularly pertinent in Asia-Pacific, where the comparability, recognition and quality assurance of higher education qualifications have become growing areas of concern, particularly in countries where administrative systems are underdeveloped.

During the 14th Session, State Parties to the 1983 Bangkok Convention elected a new Bureau to take forward the goals captured in the Sydney Statement and lead the overall work of the Regional Committee. With support from UNESCO Bangkok as the Secretariat, the new Bureau of the Regional Committee is led by the following State Parties:

First Vice-Chair:
Second Vice-Chair:

Republic of Korea

For the next two years, the new Bureau will guide the activities of the Regional Committee, with UNESCO Bangkok providing Secretariat support, including plans for a new capacity building workshop in 2017 and planning for the 15th Session. A new work plan is also being developed to help accelerate ratification and implementation of the 2011 Tokyo Convention.

During the close of the 14th Session and following a successful workshop on Education 2030, Dr Gwang-Jo Kim, Director of UNESCO Bangkok, the Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau of Education, reminded delegates that the vision and efforts embodied in the Education 2030 agenda and Sydney Statement are not entirely new to this region. Similar lessons can be found in writings dating back centuries, such as in The Great Learning, written in approximately 500 BCE: “Wishing to order well their states, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons.”

He said that this belief in the power of education continues to underpin the work that UNESCO does, as the specialized United Nations agency for education, and fuel the organization’s work in leading and coordinating efforts to achieve the Education 2030 agenda to promote sustainable development through ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Organized by UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok) in collaboration with the Australian government’s Department of Education and Training, the Regional Committee sessions are biennial events where Member States can discuss their concerns and develop recommendations concerning the 1983 Bangkok Convention and the new generation 2011 Tokyo Convention. With support from the Australian government and Republic of Korea Funds-in-Trust, UNESCO Bangkok was able to support the participation of least developed countries and small island developing states within the Asia-Pacific region in this important meeting.

For questions regarding ratification procedures or capacity building needs related to the 2011 Tokyo Convention, please contact the Secretariat of the Regional Committee at:

The full text of the Sydney Statement is available here

14th Session: Presentations and further information