Scholarships and closer ties for ASEAN & Aus

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Posted on March 12, 2024


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A comprehensive bilateral meeting between Australia and Southeast Asia marked the introduction of scholarships and fellowships for ASEAN students. Over 75 scholarships, dubbed Aus4ASEAN, will be awarded as part of a new era of collaboration with the region, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese stated during the Australia ASEAN Summit on March 4–7.

Australian institutions will support a portion of the scholarships, and 55 fellowships for “emerging leaders from the region” will also be made available to grant access to Australia’s educational system.

The economies of Australia and ASEAN are closely related. We wish to contribute more to Southeast Asia’s efforts to develop, expand, and take advantage of economic opportunities,” Albanese stated.

He went on, “My government has prioritized serious, ongoing, and consistent international engagement—working with our friends and partners to shape the future we want to see.”

Albanese was joined at the Melbourne summit by leaders from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, and other ASEAN nations.

At the conference, it was stated that English language training will be made available from Australian partners to “support country’s path to full ASEAN membership,” a move that welcomed Timor Leste, which is not yet a part of ASEAN.

After formally requesting membership in 2021, it has remained a “observer of ASEAN” throughout the years. The Australia Vietnam Policy Institute, which was previously only accessible online, was officially opened in person to strengthen links between Australia and Vietnam. The institute will focus on a number of areas, including education.

Delegates and the Group of Eight universities in particular commended the Melbourne Declaration, which included the scholarships and ELT announcement; CEO Vicki Thomson described it as “notable.”

Not the least of which is the understanding of the vitally important role that research and education play as the cornerstones of our collaborations in the area, Thomson stated on LinkedIn.

A special roundtable on education and skills included discussions on collaboration and partnerships in international education. During the roundtable, topics like the Southeast Asia Economic Strategy 2040 were covered.

Over the last 50 years, Thomson stated, “Our research and education partnerships have strongly underpinned the development of the ASEAN-Australian relationship and regional collaboration.”

“In the next fifty years, when knowledge, skills, and abilities are most needed to propel economic integration and technological advancements, they will play an even more crucial role.”

During the roundtable, there was also talk of Australia’s promotion as a “destination of choice” for potential ASEAN students. Matchima Naradisorn from Mae Fah Luang University and Alec Cameron, VC, president of RMIT University in Melbourne, the host institution for the summit, led the roundtable.

To meet the changing needs of ASEAN countries, he added, the discussion “identified opportunities to scale transnational education, research partnerships, and alumni and diaspora networks.”

In addition, Albanese said that the region’s visa policies will be revised, including a five-year extension of the Business Visitor Visa and a 10-year visa stream for ASEAN Member States that meet the requirements.

Notably, after steps were taken through the Migration Strategy to combat fraud and “bad actors,” no statements were made changing the policy involving student visas. During the conference, Luke Sheehy, CEO of Universities Australia, also spoke, restating the fact that Australia is already “increasingly taking Australian education to the region” and enrolling thousands of students from ASEAN.

Previous to the summit, he said, “We look forward to continuing to work with government and industry to ensure education remains front and center of our foreign policy agenda to help support a safe and prosperous region.”