International Centre for Higher Education Innovation
under the auspices of UNESCO


June 10, 2016
Shenzhen Consensus


1. We, the participants of the International Meeting on Innovation and Entrepreneurship Education jointly organized in Shenzhen, People’s Republic of China on June 7 and 8, 2016 by the UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, and the Shenzhen Municipal Government, and co-hosted by the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) and the UNESCO International Centre for Higher Education Innovation (ICHEI), express our sincere appreciation to the organizers and hosts for initiating, organizing and hosting this auspicious event on innovation and entrepreneurship education.

2. We remember and reiterate support for UNESCO’s mission to contribute to the building of peace, global citizenship education, poverty eradication, lasting development and intercultural dialogue; and further recall the 1998 and 2009 World Conferences on Higher Education which highlights the need to adapt higher education to the 21 st century and “the need to invest in higher education as a major force in building an inclusive and diverse knowledge society, and to advance research, innovation and creativity” respectively.

3. On this historical occasion, which includes the launching of the International Centre for Higher Education Innovation (ICHEI) as a UNESCO Category 2 Center, we reaffirm the vision of the worldwide movement for education for all launched in Jomtien in 1990, and reiterated in Dakar in 2000, and in the 2015 Incheon Declaration and the Education 2030 Framework for Action, which advocates for equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all and provides guidelines for action for achieving such goals respectively.

4. We highlight and reaffirm support for the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially for SDG 4 (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all); SDG 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls); SDG 9 (Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation); and SDG 10 (Reduce inequality within and among countries).

5. We note that the 2012 Paris Open Education Resources Declaration and the Qingdao Declaration, the first global declaration on ICT in education approved in Qingdao, China in May 2015, promotes the use of Open Educational Resources (OER), the establishment of enabling environments for the use of ICTs, and fostering alliances for OER, in addition to advocating for the use of ICTs to achieve education targets for equity, access, quality and lifelong learning in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) respectively.

6. Given the role of higher education in sustainable economic and social development, and the ongoing existence of a digital divide between developed and developing countries (and even within individual countries), it should be noted that the application of ICTs in higher education can help individuals and industry participate in a global economy. This is achieved by creating a skilled workforce and facilitating social mobility, especially through the application of ICTs in higher education and its multiplier effect, mainly due to its ability to increase access, enhance equity and quality, and minimizing costs related to the delivery of traditional instruction.

7. Notwithstanding the importance and significance of the global movement for Education for All, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, and the above-mentioned declarations and framework, there is a need to have a focused ICT for higher education strategy that integrates innovation in higher education practices and systems to support the achievement of the SDGs.

8. As such, we envisage an ICT-enabled higher education environment which not only increases access, equity and quality, but also enhances entrepreneurship, economic and social development, and lifelong learning for all.

ICT, Higher Education and Sustainable Development

9. Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all is an extremely challenging task. However, the multiplier effect of ICT and its application in higher education may provide sufficient leverage for its achievement.

10. Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls can start with their education, especially in higher education, where they learn the 21 st century skills necessary to participate globally within an increasingly knowledge-based society.

11. Building resilient infrastructure, promoting sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation can only be achieved with a highly-educated workforce equipped with the necessary skills to engage in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) fields. The social sciences and humanities contribution to social development, however, should not be overlooked or underestimated, given that economic development should be accompanied by social development.

12. Reducing inequality between and within countries is another challenge. Notwithstanding this, higher education’s social mobility role and increased cooperation in the application of ICTs in higher education provide the necessary tools towards achieving the above-mentioned task.

13. ICT application and innovation in higher education is not a panacea to achieving the SDG challenges. Instead, it facilitates and provides the necessary tools to help achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Towards an ICT-enabled Higher Education Environment

14. Citing the People’s Republic of China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative, which focuses on connectivity and cooperation among countries, the vision towards an ICT-enabled higher education environment can only be achieved through mutual connectivity and cooperation among countries.

15. Given that international best practices in the application of ICT in higher education should be shared resources to serve as examples to less ICT-enabled higher education systems, information sharing becomes a necessity, particularly to developing countries seeking to enhance their higher education systems through the application of ICT.

16. These international best practices should not be limited to the application of ICT to higher education at the higher education institutional level or the development of OERs, but should include all aspects of ICT application in higher education, including policy development and implementation, and relevance to various stakeholders including students, teaching personnel and industry.
17. Given the prohibitive costs of ICT infrastructure (including hardware and software) to developing countries, establishing global partnerships, including Public-Private Partnerships, helps facilitate a reduction in costs of applicable and relevant ICTs to higher education institutions and other stakeholders.

18. Establishing Public-Private Partnerships for ICT in Higher Education has the potential to establish an affordable and relevant ICT infrastructure required to increase higher education institutions’ capacity to provide equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all. Especially with the incorporation of entrepreneurship education into their mandate, these Public-Private Partnerships can encourage higher education stakeholders to embrace entrepreneurship and contribute to job creation required to absorb the increasing number of higher education graduates worldwide.

19. Furthermore, knowledge production, capacity building, technical support, policy development and support, and information sharing are essential to cultivate an ICT-enabled higher education environment.

The Role of ICHEI

20. The International Centre for Higher Education Innovation (ICHEI), is a Category 2 Centre under the auspices of UNESCO, approved on November 13, 2015 by the 38 th General Conference of UNESCO, whose mission is: a. Broadly, to work closely with UNESCO to help higher education institutions, governments and enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region to be better prepared and equipped for fulfilling their social responsibilities and serving the development needs of Member States; b. In particular, to exploit the potential of ICT to support expansion, improve quality and promote equity in higher education in developing countries; and c. To build synergies and strengthen sub-regional and regional networks.

21. ICHEI serves as a laboratory of ideas and a knowledge-sharing platform for the application of ICTs in higher education for the Asia-Pacific to generate and disseminate innovative proposals and policy advice for the consideration of UNESCO Member States.

22. Based on its four strategic objectives of knowledge production, capacity building, technical support and information sharing, ICHEI will attempt to strengthen international and regional cooperation in higher education innovation, including fostering alliances, intellectual cooperation, knowledge-sharing and operational partnerships primarily in the Asia-Pacific region; provide relevant advice for policy development and implementation; and develop institutional and human capacities for higher education through the promotion and the application of ICTs in higher education.

23. To date, ICHEI has been instrumental in building a Public-Private Partnership with Shenzhen’s key players in the ICT sector, namely Huawei, Zhongxing, and Tencent. Given Shenzhen’s reputation as a “learning city” and a hub of innovation, we hope this partnership expands in terms of geographic reach and depth, including smaller players and start-ups, to encourage their participation and contribution to higher education innovation and entrepreneurship education in the coming years.


24. As such, we express support for ICHEI and its worthy endeavor to promote and enhance the application of ICTs in higher education. Furthermore, we also express our desire to collaborate with ICHEI’s activities in the coming years to establish an ICT-enabled higher education environment that supports the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

25. We encourage the establishment of global partnerships, including Public-Private Partnerships, for the development and application of ICTs in higher education to facilitate enhanced access and relevance to multiple stakeholders to an ICT-enabled higher education environment. These partnerships should incorporate entrepreneurship education into their mandates to facilitate increasing the number of future entrepreneurs that contribute to sustainable economic and social development at the national, regional and global levels.

26. To ensure quality and relevant higher education innovation, we recognize the need to establish guidelines/principles for quality higher education innovation. Such guidelines/principles do not seek to standardize higher education innovation practices, but, rather, establish international best practices which take into consideration access, equity, quality and relevance of these innovations to multiple stakeholders.

27. Building on the legacy of the education for all movement, the Paris OER Declaration, and the Qingdao Declaration, and reiterating support for the Incheon Declaration and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, this Shenzhen Consensus is a historic commitment to promote, enhance and collaborate on the development and application of ICTs for higher education, and support UNESCO’s ongoing mission to promote peace, global citizenship education, poverty eradication, lasting development and intercultural dialogue.

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