By AT News Team, Dec. 31, 2014:   Higher education institutions affiliated with the Adventist denomination in three nations around the world announced significant achievements as 2014 came to a close. Campuses in Australia, Canada and the Philippines have attained higher status and wider reach with changes made by government agencies.

Avondale College in New South Wales, Australia, is the first institution beyond the established universities in the country to be granted full self-accreditation status by the national government’s Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, reported The Australian in its December 16 issue. “This is an important step,” Chief Commissioner Nick Saunders was quoted in the national newspaper. “Avondale College went through a rigorous assessment.”

Self-accrediting status has been a hallmark of university autonomy in Australia, as well as giving the institution a market edge because it can more rapidly respond to demand with new programs. Avondale currently has degrees in the humanities, business and teaching, as well as a nursing education program in collaboration with Sydney Adventist Hospital.

The fact that Avondale is the first institution to achieve this status has resulted in considerable attention by the news media across the country. The assessment “looked for evidence of proven experience, a history of low risk and most importantly, strong academic governance and the ability to self-assure critical higher education processes,” Saunders told The Australian.

Avondale has an enrollment of nearly 1,500 and a faculty of 89 according to the most recent Annual Statistical Report of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. It is the largest Adventist school in the South Pacific and the only Adventist institution of higher education in Australia.

The Philippines Focuses on Southeast Asia

The Adventist University of the Philippines (AUP) has joined a number of universities across Southeast Asia preparing to integrate the higher education systems in the ten nations that belong to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional body that is part of the United Nations. The P2A alliance seeks to provide all graduates with the cross-cultural competencies to fill professional positions in any of the collaborating nations.

At a November 26-27 meeting, Dr. Miriam Narbarte, academic vice president for AUP, signed Memoranda of Agreement with three other institutions: Muria Kudus University in Indonesia, Chiang Mai Rajabhat University in Thailand and Duy Tan University in Vietnam. The joint activities will take the form of study tours in which students participate in multicultural and interdisciplinary learning.

As the economies of these ten nations become more integrated there is a growing need for professionals in business and other areas who have a knowledge of the local cultures. The P2A program will help the graduates of AUP and the other participating universities to have the knowledge, understanding and multicultural competencies necessary to operate successfully in an increasingly “flat” world.

AUP has autonomous status under the Commission on Higher Education of the Philippine government and is fully accredited by both the International Board of Education and Theological Education of Southeast Asia, according to its official Web site. It has an enrollment of more than 3,500 and a faculty of 226 according to the most recent Annual Statistical Report of the denomination.

New Status, New Name in Canada

The Alberta government has given the Adventist college in Canada full status as a university and on December 15 the institution’s board voted to approve the name Burman University. Charles and Leona Burman were the couple who founded the school in 1907. He served as president and she taught English, science, geography and physiology, according to a news release from the new university.

Located in Lacombe, the institution asked local residents, as well as the faculty, students, alumni and Adventists across Canada to participate in focus groups to find a new name to recognize the new status. More than 100 suggestions came from the search and these were tested in focus groups in three regions of Canada.

“It was because of their selfless dedication and sacrifice” that the campus was established, stated Dr. Mark Haynal, the current president. “In every season of their ministry both … exemplified the mission of our school. They thought with discernment, believed with insight and commitment, and acted with confidence, compassion and competence.”

The school evolved into a junior college in 1919 and started its first four-year degree program in 1947. It currently has an enrollment of more than 500 undergraduate students and a faculty of 60. It is the only Adventist institution of higher education in the country.