The 17th Annual General Assembly of International Association of Maritime Universities (IAMU) started in earnest on the 26th of October, 2016, with an opening ceremony at the Vietnam Maritime University. A summary of the theme was the need for highly trained seafaring officers for the technologically advanced large ships of today, and the progressively automated ships of the future. This had been a clarion call from Dr. Yohei Sakakawa and other industry experts in the recent past. It was noted that education of seafaring officers, which was previously vocational based, was transitioning into much broader education, with many maritime universities offering degrees equivalent to degrees in the various fields of maritime transport studies, and further providing nodes for career diversions when a seafarer opted to retire from sailing. It was also noted in this regard that the various universities had their unique curricula. The AGA explored the possibility for IAMU member Maritime Universities to run common curricula, with the aim of producing standardized, international seafarers capable of working harmoniously anywhere in the world.
Some interesting points raised during the deliberations were as follows:
Different institutions had different foci for their graduates, bringing in limitations to having common curricula for all maritime institutions.
An IAMU standard curriculum could be produced to be a model guide and be adopted by maritime institutions.
The common base for all seafaring programmes must continue to be the STCW requirement, which makes seafarers technically competent.
A benefit to derive from common curricula was equivalent units between institutions, which would enable students to engage in exchange programmes.
Degrees for seafaring officers should also provide a preparation for those seafarers who wish to transition to shore-based careers beyond their service at sea.
The AGA offered the opportunity for networking and collaborations amongst participants. It was a great opportunity to reunite with Friends of WMU Sasakawa Fellow and WMU graduates. With top class professional conference organization, awesome sights, and nice food, Vietnam was a great place to be. Thanks to our Vietnamese hosts, who were so friendly and full of sunshine, and thanks to all who contributed to the success story.