Scholarships and closer ties for ASEAN & Aus

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Scholarships and fellowships for students from ASEAN were launched at an overarching bilateral summit between Australia and Southeast Asia.

Prime minister Anthony Albanese announced during the Australia ASEAN Summit on March 4-7 that over 75 scholarships, called Aus4ASEAN will be provided as part of a new era of partnership with the region.

Some of the scholarships will be funded by Australian universities and 55 fellowships will also be made available for “emerging leaders from the region” to give access to Australia’s education system.

“ASEAN and Australia’s economies are deeply intertwined. We want to play a bigger role in Southeast Asia’s pursuit of economic opportunity, development, and growth,” Albanese said.

“My government has made serious, sustained and consistent international engagement a priority – working together with our friends and partners to shape the future we want to see,” he continued.

Leaders from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and other ASEAN countries joined Albanese at the summit in Melbourne.

Timor Leste, which is not yet a part of ASEAN, was also welcomed at the summit, as it was announced that English language training would be made available from Australian partners “support country’s path to full ASEAN membership”.

Its official request for membership was made in 2021, and it has been an “observer of ASEAN” ever since.

Vietnam and Australia also made further ties by launching the Australia Vietnam Policy Institute in-person, which was previously only an online gateway, and will cover multiple sectors including education.

The Melbourne Declaration, of which the scholarships and ELT announcement were a part, was praised especially by delegates and the Group of Eight universities, with CEO Vicki Thomson calling it “noteworthy”.

“[It is such] not least of which is the recognition of the absolutely critical role of education and research as foundational elements of our partnerships in the region,” Thomson wrote on LinkedIn.

Discussions regarding international education collaboration and partnerships also featured in a special Education and Skills Roundtable, where elements of the Southeast Asia Economic Strategy 2040 were discussed.

“Our research and education partnerships have strongly underpinned the development of the ASEAN-Australian relationship and regional collaboration over the last five decades,” Thomson said.

“They will play an even more vital role in the next 50 years where knowledge, skills and capabilities are most needed to drive economic integration and technological advances.”

There was also discussion around Australia’s positioning as a “destination of choice” for prospective ASEAN students at the roundtable.

Alec Cameron, VC and president of RMIT Unviersity in Melbourne, where the summit was hosted, chaired the roundtable with Mae Fah Luang University’s Matchima Naradisorn.

The roundtable “identified opportunities to scale transnational education, research partnerships and alumni and diaspora networks to support the evolving demands of ASEAN nations”, he said.

“[It is] recognition of the absolutely critical role of education and research as foundational elements of our partnerships in the region”

As part of the declaration, Albanese also said that visa policy would be revamped for the region – with the extension of the Business Visitor Visa from three to five years, as wells a Frequent Traveller stream, providing 10-year visas for eligible ASEAN Member States.

Notably, no announcements were made regarding student visa policy after measures were taken to crack down on fraud and “bad actors” through the Migration Strategy.

Universities Australia CEO Luke Sheehy was also present during the summit, and reiterated the message that Australia is already “increasingly taking Australian education to the region”, as well as bringing in thousands of students from ASEAN already.

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

The post Scholarships and closer ties for ASEAN & Aus appeared first on The PIE News.

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