The presidents’ meeting of the “Consortium for Benchmarking Framework and Data Set for Online, Open, Smart, and Technology-enhanced Higher Education” (Consortium for Benchmarking Framework in short) sponsored by Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU) was held via video conference on 17 February 2021. Dr. Jing Degang, president of the Open University of China (OUC), attended the meeting and delivered a speech.

Jing Degang remarked that the OUC is now positively facilitating “four transformations,” namely, the transformation from expansion to enhancement, from a focus on qualifications to one on knowledge, from providing degrees to enhancing skills, and from predominately online teaching to the integration of online and offline teaching, striving to build a major platform for lifelong and online education and a platform for flexible education and external cooperation. Jing noted that the OUC school-running system has always been committed to pursuing quality improvement. In the future, the OUC will actively participate in and support the activities and work organised by the Consortium for a Benchmarking Framework, contributing its efforts to the establishment of globally recognised quality standards for open universities around the world. In addition, the OUC hopes to conduct international exchanges and cooperation with HBMSU in areas such as the introduction of learning resource, mutual faculty visits, research cooperation, and student exchanges on the basis of reciprocal benefits.

The Consortium for Benchmarking Framework was jointly initiated and established by HBMSU and nine other universities and international organisations in 2019 to meet the global need for quality assurance in online education. The initiative aims to establish and promote common understanding and criteria for ongoing quality enhancement in their respective educational systems and facilitate the sharing of best practices, under the overall motivation of achieving SDG 4.

The meeting was presided over by Dr Mansoor AI Awar, chancellor of HBMSU. Other participants of the meeting included the president of the Commonwealth of Learning, the president of the Arab Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education, the president and rector of the Asian Association of Open Universities and Universitas Terbuka, the president of Asia e University, the chancellor of the University of Philippines Open University, and representatives from the International Telematic University, the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities, and the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand.

Written by Hou Songyan, photos by Chen Na, OUC