Representatives of Australian Education International (AEI), a government agency, held a roundtable with the heads where the Australia in the Asian Century strategy, released last October, was discussed. The plan calls on Australia to build trade ties with its Asian neighbours through to 2025, with educational exchange viewed as key to this.
With 400 academic partnerships between Australian and Japanese universities – and the countries home to some of the strongest institutions in the region – the potential for more collaboration is clear.
Improving the poor levels of mobility between the countries won’t be easy
In a speech in May, Australian Ambassador to Japan Bruce Miller said that the countries were “natural partners for one another”.
“I am encouraged by Japan’s tremendous reform agenda in many areas, and this includes education, where it is working to internationalise its universities and increase the number of overseas students in Japan,” he said.
However, improving the poor levels of mobility between the countries won’t be easy. The number of Japanese student visitors to Australia (and globally) has fallen in recent years, totalling just 2,400 university (and 16,000 English language) students in 2010 according to UNESCO – although over 6,000 Japanese students were issued with long term student visas in 2011/2012 for all types of study.
well behind Asian countries such as China and South Korea. Meanwhile, just 543 students from Oceania studied in Japan in 2012.
At the roundtable, the Japanese institutions expressed interest in the new AsiaBound grants scheme, which will fund 10,000 Australians to study in Asia on exchanges or language courses from 2014. Plans to promote Asian languages in Australian schools could also encourage outbound mobility in time.
Meanwhile, a weaker Australian dollar should make Australia a more attractive study destination next year, but whether Japanese students buy in remains to be seen.
Professor Kent Anderson, pro-vice chancellor international at Adelaide University (and Chair of the Universities Australia Working Group on Student Mobility) led the discussions, encouraging Japanese universities to work more closely with their Australian partners in increasing two-way mobility.