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Australia: short-term study crucial to outbound “diversity”

As Australia positions itself to increase student mobility in the Asian century – with several initiatives encouraging domestic students to go abroad – a study has found that short-term study options, as opposed to semester-long programmes, are important to encourage uptake of Asian study opportunities and move away from a “US centric model”.

20,906 Australians studied abroad in 2011, 56.8% for less than a semester including placements or practical training

Short-term study programmes are important to steer “Australian student mobility away from the Americas and Europe, specifically away from international student exchanges with US, UK and Canada, where students can study in English at a western university, presumably bringing back to the Australian university credit for four subjects just like they would have studied in Australia,” says the Australian Outbound Mobility: Snapshot report published by the Strategy Policy and Research in Education.

It points out that Asian destinations dominate short-term programmes and training experiences overseas, greatly contributing to diversity in Australian student mobility.

The US tops destination countries for Australian students followed by China, the UK, Canada, Germany and France

Based on an annual survey of International Directors from 38 Australian universities participating in the Universities International Directors’ Forum (AUIDF), the study shows 20,906 Australians studied abroad in 2011.

Year-long exchanges or programmes accounted for 6.5% of all overseas experiences, 36.7% were for students on short-term or semester programmes while 56.8% were for less than a semester including placements or practical training.

Despite Asia’s dominance for short-term study, the US tops destination countries for Australian students, followed by China, the UK, Canada, Germany and France.

Asia only makes up 15% of long-term study experiences compared to 52% of short-term programmes and 44% of internships or practical training experiences. Due to students’ tendency to study in Western, English speaking countries, “short term international study programmes and international placements are important in diversifying Australian student mobility,” the report confirmed.

Asian destinations account for 52% of short-term programmes and 44% of internships or practical training experiences

Following the release of the Asian Century White paper in October last year, the government has amped up efforts to balance study exchange between it and countries in the region including allocating AUS$37 million for the Asia Bound programme which replaced existing funding for short-term study and exchange grants, gave an additional AUS$3 million for a campaign to promote study overseas and AUS$1 million for preparatory Asian language training.

The first round for funding was announced last month allowing 3,700 Australians to study in Asia. The government is also providing AUS$10 million to the Lowy Institute for the Engaging Asia Project that will focus on researching the country’s relationship with Indonesia, its economy and its role as an emerging foreign pouchy participant in the region.

Indonesia was also set to be the first benefactor of the government’s revamped “New Colombo Plan” which aims to make university study and internships with business in  Asia a priority in the coming year. Plans to send student-interns to Indonesia were derailed however due to snares in visa regulations and work rights in Indonesia.

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