Minister for tertiary education, Senator Chris Evans, said: “For a long time, Asian students have enjoyed educational opportunities here in Australia but student mobility must go both ways.
“This is a programme to give Australian students the opportunity to build lifelong professional networks and friendships. In addition, all Australian students, across all disciplines, will have greater support to take up part of their study in Asia.”
“Australian students, across all disciplines, will have greater support to take up part of their study in Asia”
The senator said the grants, which support short or semester-length study, would help a greater proportion of Australians take part of their degree in Asia by 2025. Australia’s OS-HELP loan scheme – which assists those from Commonwealth-supported countries based in Australia to study overseas – will also be extended to “provide greater flexibility”.
Thousands will be able to borrow a maximum $7,500 (up from $1,250) from 2014 with an additional $1,000 available for language preparation. The scheme will also be widened to cover those studying certain non-higher education courses.
AsiaBound is just one idea put forward in the government’s Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, released in October, which aims to widen Australia’s trade relationship with Asia over the next 13 years, beyond areas such as mining (which despite 21 years of growth may have peaked, say commentators).
The paper sets out 25 recommendations to promote areas such as Australian tourism, education and agriculture to Asia’s fast growing middle class. Among them, thousands of scholarships will be given to Asians to study in Australia while every Australian child will learn one of four “priority” languages at school: Chinese, Hindi, Japanese and Indonesian.