Plenary Panelists

Plenary Session by Prof. Dato’ Dr. Saran Kaur Gill (Deputy Vice Chancellor (Industry & Community Partnerships) UKM & Executive Director of AsiaEngage ( ATNEU, AUN USR&S & AYVP))

Prof. Dato’ Dr. Saran Kaur Gill is Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Industry and Community Partnerships) of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM or The National University of Malaysia), responsible for developing mutually beneficial partnerships between the university, industry and community as they support the domains of education, research and service.  She has been working at the university for more than 30 years in scholarly pursuits, human resource development and management of large projects. In 2004, Saran was appointed member of the UNESCO Scientific Committee for the Asia-Pacific Region for Higher Education, Research and Knowledge. In 2010, she received the inaugural award of “Education Personality of the Year” from the Australian High Commission in recognition of her efforts in developing Malaysian-Australian educational partnerships. Other awards received include Enhancing the Image of UKM excellence award in 1999 and a Fulbright award to research on language policy and managing identities at the University of Pennsylvania in 2006. Saran is presently leading the development of AsiaEngage, which is a brand name formed to maximise the strengths of the Asia-Talloires Network of Industry and Community Engaged Universities (ATNEU), the ASEAN University Network (AUN) Thematic Network on University Social Responsibility and Sustainability (AUN-USR&S) and the ASEAN Youth Volunteer Programme. All these networks/programme under AsiaEngage aim to create mutually beneficial partnerships between the Research, Education and Volunteerism missions of higher education with industry and community stakeholders across ASEAN and Asia.

Read the abstract for Prof. Dato’ Dr. Saran’s session at the conference here.

Plenary Session by Maria Nieves Tapia (Director of the Latin American Centre for Service-Learning (CLAYSS), Argentina)



Nieves Tapia is the founder and Director for CLAYSS (Latin American Center for Service-learning).  CLAYSS is currently leading the Iberican-American Service-learning Network, which includes more than 60 non-governmental organizations, public administrations and Universities from the United States, Latin America and Spain (

From 1997 to 2010 she led the Argentina Ministry of Education service-learning programs. She was a founding member of the Board of the International Association for Research on Service-learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE,, and has served as Jury for the Argentina Presidential Awards for Service-learning, and for the MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship. Tapia has been honored as an Eisenhower Fellow (1988); National Service Fellow (1993), and has been the recipient of the 2001 Alec Dickson Servant Leader Award (

Graduated in History in 1978, she was Professor at the Catholic University in Buenos Aires, and has published numerous books and articles on service-learning in Spanish, English and Italian.

Read the abstract for Ms Tapia’s session at the conference here

Plenary Session by Jaana Puukka (Analyst/Project Leader, OECD Education Directorate)



Jaana Puukka is an expert in international higher education, currently leading the OECD Reviews of Higher Education in Regional and City Development. She joined the OECD Education Directorate in 2005 to serve the Programme on International Management in Higher Education (IMHE) as an analyst and project manager. Since 2005 she has co-ordinated and led the thematic reviews of higher education institutions’ role in more than 30 cities and regions in over 20 countries throughout the world. She has personally led international expert teams in more than 15 reviews in Australia, Chile, Germany, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, Spain, South Africa, United States and has co-authored the review reports.  She is the co-author and editor of the OECD flagship publication entitled “Higher Education and Regions – Globally Competitive – Locally Engaged” and the forthcoming report “Higher Education and Regions – For Stronger, Cleaner and Fairer Regions”. She also contributes to OECD horizontal work linked to the OECD innovation, skills and green growth strategies.

In addition to her international career within the OECD, Jaana Puukka has experience in higher education and regional development in Finland as a ministerial and local government adviser, programme manager, practitioner and evaluator. She has broad management experience from the university sector in university internationalisation, PR & communication and stakeholder management positions, and has also served the Finnish Ministry of Education in various assignments, e.g. in the review of university master’s programmes. Her corporate sector experience is in the field of pharmaceutical industry.

Read the abstract for Ms Puukka’s session at the conference here.

Plenary Session by Dr Jenni Chambers, Policy Advisor, Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Project Manager, National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE)  

In July 2008 Dr Jenni Chambers joined the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) as a Policy Advisor in the Knowledge Exchange and Skills Policy team. Prior to joining HEFCE Jenni was a junior academic undertaking research in the fields of archaeology, geology and evolution, developing extensive experience in encouraging the public to engage with their ancient heritage.

ForHEFCE she leads on public, civic and community engagement for the Council, drawing on this experience. As part of this role she has overseen projects such as the Beacons for Public Engagement which sought to foster culture change within the HE sector to encourage public engagement, and South East Coastal Communities which sought to pilot new, community based, forms of knowledge exchange, both of which were funded by HEFCE’s Strategic Investment Fund.

She is also responsible for the assessment, monitoring and evaluation of the Higher Education Innovation Fund the Council’s major fund for all types of knowledge exchange. She is also currently on a part time secondment as a Project Manager with the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement reuniting her previous interests working on a project on community heritage with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Read the abstract for Dr Chambers’ session at the conference here.


More to come soon. 

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