Top of the class

Asian universities have moved on from trying to establish regional dominance to competing on the world stage. Hurrairah bin Sohail looks at how and which pro AV technology they are looking for to stake their claim.

When it comes to Asia, no broad sector has been as consistently good for growth as has education. Education is often described as the great equalizer, which explains why governments across the region have always devoted attention to it and worked hard to improve it. It is a tool for emerging nations to catch up with the rest of the world.

Many countries in Asia have focused specifically on institutes of higher learning. Their efforts over the past decades seems to have borne fruit, with Asian universities now competing on an international level in terms of quality and opportunities offered to staff and students alike.

Mark Goh who is the sales director at Electronics & Engineering, a prominent system integrator in Singapore, says regarding education: “One of the common trends in Singapore’s tertiary education sector is that the government increases the spending budget annually with a steady increase. For the Asia Pacific region this expenditure remains with positive growth.” Since education is of such paramount importance, in many Asian countries it may be closely regulated or controlled. Jeffery Fun, general manager and president of regional business development at system integrator Esco, describes the situation: “For countries like India, Philippines, Hong Kong and Singapore there are certain guidelines, standards and government regulations for procurement when it comes to education. In order to get work and generate sales, you need to go through this level first to understand the market.”

Brad Hogan, director at DRM Audio Visual in Australia, has a similar story to tell when it comes to universities and their exacting standards. “To work in the university sector, you have to qualify to be on a panel of AV contractors and if you do anything wrong, you get kicked off,” he says. “That is the way they operate.”

On top of the oversight provided by governing bodies, the end users demanding pro AV technology themselves are exacting. Working in the education sector can be demanding for system integrators. “It is still a business with tight margins and the good customers know exactly what they want. Plus you are working with tight time frames. I would imagine that it is no different across Asia,” says Hogan.

The demands of universities in Asia are no different from those of top notch institutes of higher learning. Karan Manral, who is the lead for marketing and special projects at Indian system integrator Actis, elaborates: “In basic classrooms of universities, you may have entry level equipment such as trolley-based VC units. But in many of the other formal area, you will tend to find integrated lighting, integrated control and more high-end technology.”

The presence of high end equipment, besides the obvious advantages in terms of functionality, can also prove to be beneficial for universities in other ways. Manral notes: “It obviously impresses the students and if the students are happy, then that is great.”

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