Year 2001

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Record of Discussion of the Expert Meeting 2001

Goals of the DUO Programme

Experts generally agreed that the goal of the DUO Programme was to promote a balanced increase of student and teacher contacts and exchanges between Asia and Europe, thereby promoting mutual understanding between the two regions.

Presently, several exchange programmes between Asian and European countries are in operation. A unique feature of the DUO Programme, compared to other exchange programmes, may be its exchange pairs. This Programme is designed to support and increase the exchange of persons between the two regions in a balanced manner. Furthermore, the DUO Programme enables ASEM members who are not prepared to make a financial contribution, to participate in the Programme. When a donor country chooses to conduct an exchange with a non-donor country in the framework of its DUO Programme "component", it enables the recipient country to become a DUO participant. Some experts informed the Meeting of the details of existing exchange programmes, including those initiated by Germany, the U.K., and the ASEAN University Network, and noted that the DUO programme is distinct from them in many respects. For the dissemination of information on these programmes, it was suggested that these programmes be uploaded onto the web-site of the Secretariat to be established later.

Basic Structure of the DUO Programme

The experts reviewed and endorsed the DUO Concept Paper draft of 30 January 2001, and adopted the paper as the basic framework for the DUO Programme.

With the DUO Concept Paper providing the basic framework for the DUO Programme, contributing countries may create their own component of the Programme. At this Experts' Meeting, France provided its DUO proposal as an example.

Pairing of Exchanges

As for exchange pairs, some experts proposed country exchange pairs in view of the flexibility it offered for participating countries. However, they respected institution exchange pairs as a base as set forth in the DUO Concept Paper.

For the setting up of pairs, the experts suggested that the DUO Programme begin with bilateral exchanges. However, some experts stated that, since there have already been bilateral exchanges, the DUO Programme should be different from existing ones so as to promote further linkages. Hence, they proposed engaging in multilateral exchanges through the building of consortiums in both regions, which would arrange exchange pairs. The experts expected that bilateral exchanges would evolve into multilateral exchanges in the future. However, the experts concluded that bilateral exchanges would be more appropriate as a starting point because of the many details that need to be dealt with among different countries, which would be difficult to manage multilaterally. Therefore, multilateral transfers would not be very practicable in the early stages.

The experts recommended that the DUO Programme give priority to exchanges at higher education levels and joint projects, such as those concerning joint courses, joint degrees, and credit transfers, since there have been few exchanges in this area. It was stated that there was no limit as to what levels of education can be covered because of the Programme's flexibility, which is embodied in the Core Principles.

The experts recognized that groups of professors and teachers, or consortiums, could participate in the exchange Programme, as well as both private and public institutions, so long as the Programme's goals were being met.

Individual DUO Country Programmes

The experts proposed that a contributing country should have the right to manage funds that she donates, to choose her participating country, and to set up her own priorities for the exchange programme. Nevertheless, some experts expressed the concern that this would cause some countries, which are not able to provide sponsorship, to be excluded from the Programme, since their participation would depend wholly on whether they are selected by contributing countries. They were also concerned that the benefits for non-donor countries would be limited by conditions that contributing countries would impose. In response to these concerns, other experts mentioned that, according to the concept paper, contributing countries have the right to use their finances as they see fit. Otherwise, contributing countries would be reluctant to participate in the Programme. They stressed that individual DUO programmes may give priority to exchange programmes with developing countries, and also that the participating partners may actively seek out cooperation institutions in the contributing partners.

The experts considered having the National Selection Committee or jury in each country determine its own exchange scheme, which would include selection criteria and procedures.

It was also noted that the Core Principles permit individual countries to have different goals for their DUO Programmes.

Some experts expressed concern that the new exchanges in the DUO Programme would undermine existing programmes, while some others commented that there might be some difficulty in getting existing programmes to fall under the DUO Programme, if there are programme requirements that are difficult for some countries to meet. It is not desirable to have DUO become a separate programme, since it would just be a duplication of efforts, so every effort should be made to combine ongoing programmes with the DUO Programme. As some experts pointed out, the Programme should not create obstacles for existing programmes and efforts, but rather, it should accelerate exchanges. Existing programmes should continue, and DUO should be complementary with these. While DUO can help students study in countries that would otherwise be inaccessible to them, it can also help address issues and obstacles that national programmes cannot effectively address, such as financial support, language problems, etc.

In addition, the experts proposed that domestic institutions ensure credit transfers for their exchange students. Otherwise, the exchange students would suffer disadvantages by participating in the programme.

A concern was also expressed that there might be a "gap" between Europe and Asia, in terms of the progress that has already been made individually and collectively as regions. Particularly in Asia, more information on what each country is doing may be needed, as well as more efforts to combine individual endeavours. It was suggested that perhaps another forum for Asian countries might be helpful in addressing issues specific to Asia, while going ahead with the DUO Programme.

After much discussion and clarification, experts from several countries noted the unique features of the DUO Programme and expressed their intention to make recommendations to their country for participation as contributing partners, after evaluating the implementation of the DUO programme.

Standard Period of Stay and Grant Amounts

A few experts expressed concern that the proposed duration is too short, as there could be students and professors who require more time for their studies or teaching. In such cases, the experts felt that their stay could be extended by increasing the units of modules as stipulated in the Core Principles.

However, several experts were concerned that, since some countries have higher living expenses, these proposed amounts may not adequately cover all of the expenses involved. Other experts, however, pointed out that the actual allocation of grants can be worked out by the pairing institutions and the grants under the DUO programme are quite generous compared to other existing ones. Moreover, if the pairing institutions provide accommodation and tuition waivers to the exchange participants, the grants could be quite substantial.

Time Frame

Some experts stated that a more structured time schedule for the application procedure and programme is desirable. This includes giving students early notice of the selection results and providing students and teachers with sufficient preparation time before the semester begins. However, it was noted that because the school year begins at different times for different countries, this might present slight difficulties when coordinating placements. Singapore's programme will probably commence in the first half of 2002, since the school year starts at that time. Korea aims to complete its selection process by the end of this year, and dispatch its students and teachers in June or July 2002 at the latest. And France explained that the school year starts in September, but the programme may commence earlier in the year 2002 with exchanges of teachers.

Steering Committee

The meeting discussed whether or not a Steering Committee was needed, and if so, what the Committee's functions should be and who should be members. While the experts agreed that a large committee, with a representative from every country, would not be as efficient and fast as a smaller one (perhaps 5-8 members), several participants felt that the donor countries should at least be represented in the Committee. The view was also expressed that the Committee's members should reflect a balanced representation of both European and Asian countries. Some experts recommended that there be another body to oversee the Committee's activities.

Several experts commented, though, that the setting up of more committees might only end up diverting funds from the DUO Programme. A Steering Committee should be set up only if needed, and its functions and duties should be clarified.

General consensus emerged among the experts that a Steering Committee was not needed at this time, and that they would reconsider this matter later once the DUO programme was actually put into place.


With regard to a Secretariat, the meeting reached a general consensus that a Secretariat was needed to manage the DUO Programme. The Secretariat will be responsible for all the administrative work for the DUO programme, including the posting of application forms, receiving and processing applications for National Selection Committees or juries, transfer of grants to exchange programmes, maintenance of a web-site, an information depository on related programmes, and providing a general focal point for the DUO Programme.

The experts discussed which body would oversee the Secretariat. The ASEM Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM) and the Asia-Europe Foundation Board of Governors were proposed. After much discussion, a general consensus emerged that the SOM may be the best body to oversee the Secretariat, since all activities and developments need to be reported to the SOM anyway.

It was also suggested that the SOM could decide whether a second Experts' Meeting is needed.

Korea announced that, as part of its contribution to the DUO Programme, it was willing to provide office space for the Secretariat in Seoul, pay rent for that space, and cover the salaries of the staff, which might consist of two or three members-a part-time Secretary-General and two full-time employees. The allocation of all other expenses is to be discussed further among contributing partners. Korea further suggested that a Secretariat be established in Seoul at the earliest possible date, and the selection of the personnel for the Secretariat be made by the Korean government, considering the time constraints and the initiative Korea had taken in this regard. Korea also suggested that ASEM member countries be invited to send experts to the Secretariat on a secondment basis, with related costs and expenses to be covered by the dispatching country. The meeting welcomed Korea's offer and expressed its gratitude for this.

Malaysia offered to work on and fund a concept paper on joint degree holders in Asia, in consultation with European and Asian countries, the AUN, universities, etc. The offer was welcomed by the Meeting.

Summary Report

It was proposed that the results of the present meeting be reported to the next SOM. This proposal was supported by the experts, and it was decided that the Summary Report, with attachments (this record as Annex A, revised concept paper, and individual available DUO programmmes) would be submitted to SOM in Stockholm, Sweden, from 25-27 April, 2001 to inform them of the progress made since the Third ASEM Summit in Seoul.