The Final CALOHEA General Meeting Convened in Bangkok, Thailand, Paving Ways Forward for Future Initiatives

On 1-3 July 2024, the 8th CALOHEA General Meeting convened in Bangkok, Thailand with participation from 64 CALOHEA experts and five European Experts.

The meeting marked the final General Meeting for the CALOHEA Project, where members gathered one final time to discuss the impacts the CALOHEA Recognition Mechanisms brought to their respective countries and subject area groups. The meeting also discussed ways forward and possible dissemination campaigns to ensure impact and the dissemination of the project’s results are long-lasting and sustainable.

“We need to Keep the Ball Rolling”

In his opening remarks, Dr. Choltis Dhirathi, Executive Director of the AUN, reaffirmed the position of the CALOHEA Project as a high-impact project to the region.

Since the beginning of the project in 2021, the project had involved over 250 participants from 23 universities in the project consortium who came to the develop the three CALOHEA Recognition Mechanisms for better qualifications recognition and internationalisation in ASEAN higher education, namely:
– Subject-specific qualifications reference frameworks
– Student workload measurement
– Authentic assessment of learning outcomes

After four years in the making, the project has gradually rolled out the mechanisms to interest study programmes and universities both inside and outside of the project consortium to much positive feedback, with interest in the project expressed by authorities from different countries the AUN has engaged with.

The key now, emphasised Dr. Choltis, is to keep the ball ‘rolling’ and to consolidate the results of the project for a long-lasting ripple effect that will bring forth sustainable changes to the comparability of ASEAN educational qualifications and learning programmes.

He expressed his joy to see the connection between the participants remaining strong after four years of the project and encouraged the participants to keep this community of experts on CALOHEA Recognition Mechanisms flourishing for initiatives to come.

The CALOHEA Impact: Country’s Perspective

One of the main purposes of the meeting was for the participants to reflect on and consolidate the results of the CALOHEA Recognition Mechanisms they experienced in their country and subject area groups.

On the country level, the impacts discovered by the participants were broad in range and far-reaching, including but not limited to:

Better Alignment with the National Framework

In some countries, such as Lao PDR and Indonesia; student workloads, national qualifications framework, and requirements for programmes’ profiles already exist to guide universities in their conduct of education. Participants highlighted how the three CALOHEA Recognition Mechanisms assisted their university or programme in better aligning itself with the national framework or requirement.

Filling the Gap in the National Framework

As the CALOHEA Recognition Mechanisms could assist universities in aligning themselves with the national framework, so they could help the universities in filling the gap left by the national framework. In the Philippines, the lack of documents to regulate student workload at the national level left a gap for the CALOHEA Recognition Mechanisms to help universities in calculating and comparing student workloads, a boon similarly well-received in other member countries.

Clear Measurement for Student Workloads

One of the chagrins faced by students and lecturers alike is undoubtedly how much workload is the right workload. The discrepancy in the perception of assigned workload could result in a dent, if not a deterioration, to students’ well-being and teacher-student relationship to come. Participants across different countries agreed that student workload measurement had allowed their universities, colleagues, and students to gain better understanding on the assigned workloads, whether the students are being over-assigned or under-assigned at schools. Clear measurement for student workloads also enabled them to benchmark against one another as well as the global standard for how much their students are working and improve their assignment regime accordingly for better workload, both for the students and lecturers.

Students Involvement in Curriculum Design Process and Workload Calculation

Many participants welcomed students’ participation in the curriculum design process and workload calculation with positive notes. In Thailand, with the country’s increasing encouragement for outcome-based education, the decision on which outcomes to be aimed for is the crucial first step and must be shaped by voices from all stakeholders. Participants found participation in the CALOHEA Project to be highly helpful in involving students into the process. Tools for student workload measurement also allowed for students to monitor and report their workloads and worked with instructors to determine workloads that were optimal for them.

Curriculum Revisit and Redesign

With tools to calculate student workloads and create authentic learning assessments, the CALOHEA Recognition Mechanisms have served as a ‘push’ for universities to revisit and redesign their curriculums to encourage incorporation of the Mechanisms as well as encourage faculties to reimagine their courses and learning activities.

The CALOHEA Impact: Subject Area Group’s Perspective

The CALOHEA Project involved the development of the CALOHEA Recognition Mechanisms in three subject areas of Civil Engineering, Teacher Education, and Medicine. Following a reflection on the impact of the CALOHEA Project to each participant’s country, the participants were asked to reflect on the impact of the CALOHEA Project in their respective subject area group.

Civil Engineering

The perspective from the Civil Engineering subject area group was presented by Dr. Taksiah A. Majid, the coordinator of the CALOHEA Civil Engineering subject area group.

Dr. Taksiah found the experience in the CALOHEA Project to be ‘challenging’ yet ‘rewarding,’ with each country having their own curriculum design methodology and regulations. The CALOHEA Project allowed for an eye-opening experience where participants from each country came together to create a quality benchmark that transcends country boundaries.

Following the roll out of CALOHEA Recognition Mechanisms, impact could be felt in curriculum design, quality assurance, and student workload measurement of the civil engineering subject area group.

The second recognition mechanism, student workload measurement, allowed for more accurate measurement of student workload, a practice which was not necessarily mandated in every country’s national regulation. With utilisation of student workload tools such as:
– Desk estimation
– End-of-term questionnaire
– Diary/Logbook
– Focus group discussion
– Student self-reflection;
The civil engineering subject area group could accurately measure time students spent on the workload and benchmark with national or regional average maximum and minimum trend accordingly. This accurate measurement of student workload also enabled students to estimate their own workload and provided feedback to lecturers regarding their assignment.

The incorporation of authentic learning assessment, the third recognition mechanism, opened a platform for engagement with industry and relevant stakeholders to create learning assessment that would ensure students’ industry readiness.

The mechanisms overall also allowed for teaching staff to have a better understanding of curriculum design and how learning outcomes could be set.

Certain challenges, however, still remained as the incorporation of new assessments or workload measurements could necessitate overall transformation of teaching and learning approach, especially with regards to matters such as class size and number of students per instructor.

Teacher Education

The perspective of the Teacher Education subject area group was presented by Dr. Richard Jugar, the Teacher Education subject area group’s coordinator.

Dr. Richard highlighted the complication of the Recognition Mechanisms development for Teacher Education as each country employs different structure and requirements for each level of education.

After four years with multiple consultative activities with stakeholders, the Teacher Education subject area group created a list of key competencies expected from teacher education graduates. The list included seven dimensions thoroughly ruminated to capture the core competencies of Teacher Education, including:
– Knowledge mastery, management, and creation
– Design, development, implementation, and evaluation of curricular components and processes related to learning, teaching, and assessment
– Learner enabling, growth, and holistic development
– Communication
– Community engagement and social leadership
– Ethics and professionalism
– Lifelong learning and human formation

In the line of student workload measurement, the implementation by Teacher Education subject area group showed overestimation on the part of academics and underestimation on the part of students.

The Teacher Education subject area group also noted the possibility for artificial intelligence (AI) to skew workload perception on both sides. Academics equipped with AI tools might underestimate the amount of time a student without such resources needed to complete the task. Meanwhile, academics with limited knowledge to AI tools might underestimate the assistance the technology could lend to students in tackling their assignment. To what extent AI could affect academics and students’ perception of workload could be a subject for further research.

Several tools were employed in the measurement process, and more were also developed to the needs of each institution. One of which is the Syllabus Estimation Exercise.

The exercise, devices from a desk estimation exercise, called for instructors to rate and identify student workload before, during, and after implementation following their syllabus. The exercise was created based on the belief that instructors must be able to estimate workloads for the syllabi they prepare. Following the trial of this exercise, 98% of participating instructors found the workload to be too much.

The Teacher Education subject area group also worked to develop the Authentic Assessment Development Framework. The purpose of the framework is to provide outlines for instructors in creating authentic assessment that would involve not only ‘real-world problems’ but also the environment, context, and resources available to graduates upon their professional transition. As individual sit-down exams or oral defence may not necessarily reflect the true natures of challenges graduates must overcome in their professional life, the framework strifes for learning assessments that are authentic, holistic, and truly reflective of professional challenges.


Assoc. Prof. Dr. Muhamad Saiful Bahri Bin Yusoff, Medicine Subject Area Group Coordinator, presented the key impacts of the CALOHEA Project at students, faculty, programme, institution, national, and regional level, including:

Preparation for workplace: Subject-specific qualifications framework and student workload measurement ensure students have sufficient time to grow and achieve learning outcomes that matter to them, while authentic assessment ensures student’ preparedness for joining workplaces
Facilitation for credit transfer: Student workload serves as a foundation for qualifications that are flexible and transferrable, enabling credit transfer and student mobility
Faculty and institutional development: the CALOHEA Recognition Mechanisms require teaching staff to revisit their action plans, therefore, promoting teaching staff to find the right student workload, the right competency, and the right assessment for their students
Recognition and mobility opportunities: credit transfer is not a common practice for medicine education but the CALOHEA Recognition Mechanisms could lay the foundation for qualifications recognition and student mobility in medicine education

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Muhamad Saiful Bahri Bin Yusoff also shared with the meeting common findings the Medicine subject area group discovered across participating countries in terms of workload for medical students. These included:
– Discrepancies in student workload perception between students and academics, with students perceiving their workload at 48.1 to 97.1 hours per week and academics perceiving workload of their students ranging from 19 to 92 hours per week
– Consensus for student workload estimation to include workload in both contact hours and independent hours
– A need for more involvement and commitment from the ASEAN medical education providers to work together for credit transfer in the region

Future Initiatives for Sustainable Impact and Dissemination

In the culmination of the project, one of the key topics discussed was how to ensure the project’s long-lasting impact and dissemination.

Participants showed enthusiasm and commitments to share the knowledge gained from the project and raise awareness on the importance of the three Recognition Mechanisms to ASEAN higher education’s internationalisation, from programme level to institutional, national, and regional level.

Many expressed their visions and interest for institutional bilateral or multilateral cooperation to foster a community of experts and create a working platform for possible joint research on the feasibility and implementation of the CALOHEA Recognition Mechanisms, especially for the implementation of student workload measurement and authentic assessment of learning outcomes.

Plans were also unveiled for joint knowledge-sharing and capacity-building activities inter- and intra-universities, whether in the forms of publications, webinars, or training. Interested universities staff and faculties could find out more about upcoming dissemination activities from the project consortium at:

Another key stakeholder that could not be overlooked in the solidification of the project’s results and the integration of the CALOHEA Recognition Mechanisms for better qualifications recognition and internationalisation is the government’s body that oversees each country’s educational regulation.

As expressed by the project’s participants, the governmental authorities could be the key players in ensuring that the subject-specific qualifications reference frameworks, the students workload measurement, and the authentic assessment of learning outcomes are utilised and embedded in the country’s education system across the board.

Ideas were exchanged on the engagement with governmental stakeholders, as well as the possibility of international mechanisms, like the AUN Quality Assurance (AUN-QA) Network or the AUN Credit Transfer Systems (AUN-ACTS) to take parts in rolling out the adoption of the mechanisms at national or regional level.

Some already took a step forward, such as the Philippine country group which already announced the organisation of national policy forum involving:
– the Commission on Higher Education (CHED)
– 45 higher education institutions including universities with centres of excellence, centres of development, and autonomous universities
– Experts from the CALOHEA Project and AUN
The forum is scheduled to take place on 3-4 October at West Visayas State University, Iloilo City, the Philippines.

Many members agreed on the importance of such bottom-up initiatives from the universities as well as top-down regulations from the government, and several had already set their eyes on engaging with governmental authorities in their future initiatives following the conclusion of the project.

The Beginning of Something New

In the closing remarks of the meeting, Dr. Pablo Beneitone, CALOHEA Coordination Team, recalled his experience during the conclusion of the Tuning Asia-South East (TA-SE), the predecessor project to the CALOHEA, in 2016.

The conclusion of the TA-SE was marked by the feeling of completion, of something being over, yet the sense of something new to come was there, and soon came the CALOHEA Project. Dr. Pablo said that same feeling was coming back now, the sense of a new chapter for something different to come.

He expressed his appreciation for the commitment of the project participants to overcoming challenges, including the pandemic which put the project online in 2021, and congratulated them for the incredible achievements presented through the three days of the meeting, as well as the connection they had formed during the four year period of the CALOHEA Project.

Dr. Pablo’s sentiment was also shared by Dr. Choltis Dhirathiti, who pointed out that the end could also mark the beginning of something new, as could be seen by proposals of possible collaborations and activities from the participants to solidify the long term impact of the project to their universities, their countries, and ASEAN.

He expressed his gratitude to the European and ASEAN partners for making the projects possible, both the TA-SE Project and the CLOHEA Project. He also extended his appreciation to the 14 hosts of the CALOHEA National Meetings, which served as the key platform for the realisation of the project’s results.

Despite the finale of the 8th General Meeting, more are still to come for the CALOHEA Project. To stay tuned to the latest activities and dissemination campaigns by the project consortium, please visit