“It is time to widen the focus of international education in Australia. The Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee (AVCC) has recognised this and, in its 2004 policy paper Achieving the vision for Australia’s universities, set the target for 20% of Australian students to include international study as part of their degrees by 2020,” according to AVCC’s president Professor Di Yerbury.

“Australian universities want to provide students with opportunities for diverse global experiences not limited to traditional education destinations. Brazil, Chile and Mexico are renowned internationally as being highly competitive in various fields of science and research, including the environment, biotechnology and telecommunications,” Professor Yerbury said.1


“While there is a focus on Australia in the Asian Century, with 80 per cent of international students in Australia coming from Asia, it is important to develop links with the emerging regions of Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. A number of submissions highlighted the risk of over-reliance on a particular region. Apart from the lack of diversity this may produce in the classroom, it poses a financial risk to institutions.

The Australia in the Asian Century White Paper acknowledges Australia’s strong and robust relationship with Asian nations such as China, Japan, India, Indonesia and the Republic of Korea, and the need to further build on these relationships. The paper also suggests the need to assess the benefits of Australia joining with the Pacific Alliance of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru to help strengthen linkages between Asia and Latin America. This approach would align with the views of stakeholders that greater diversity in the student cohort would be beneficial, and the Council looks forward to developments in this area.

Australia’s long history in international education and its English language teaching and living environment provide the platform for developing valuable links with regions that are increasing their demand for high quality education and training, such as Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Austrade has increased promotion of Australia’s international education offerings within these regions and proposes that this continues in a coordinated manner with the sector.”2


“Another key issue identified by the Advisory Council was the need to encourage Australian institutions and governments to develop strong and diverse international and multinational partnerships… These partnerships encourage student, researcher and teacher exchanges and draw strengths from across the international education community and across the world. We will not lose sight of the potential for developing new partnerships with regions such as Latin America. This is why the Government has established an education and science counsellor in Brasilia to build closer research and science linkages to promote Australia as a high-quality study destination.”3

Educating Global Citizens

With Australian universities forging new links with countries in Latin America there is the possibility to provide Australian students “with opportunities for diverse global experiences not limited to traditional education destinations” by becoming global citizens.

As Dr Kathleen Lilley notes in her paper “Educating Global Citizens: Translating the ‘Idea’ into University Organisational Practice” (900kb pdf) the idea of the global citizen and the transformative benefits of a mobility experience are critical. She suggests that mobility comparable experiences could be promoted in teaching and learning for all students through greater intercultural and ‘out of the comfort zone’ learning experiences. The paper goes on to suggest that, “student transformation need not be ‘a once in a lifetime event’ that occurs from mobility. There is potential to develop global citizens in universities by providing mobility comparable experiences… This is particularly relevant as the benefits of mobility are linked to the soft skills that employers desire.”4


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1. Professor Di Yerbury quoted in an Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee (AVCC) media release 18 April 2005  [Online] No longer available
2. International Education Advisory Council (IEAC) (2013). “Australia – Educating Globally: Advice from the International Education Advisory Council” (February 2013) Commonwealth of Australia, p. 63 on the Australian Government Education International website [Online] Cited 21/11/2014
3. From a transcript of a speech by Senator Bridget McKenzie. “The Government’s plan for sustainable growth in international education” at the Australian International Education Conference, October 2014, p. 9 on the Australian Government Education International website [Online] Cited 21/11/2014
4. Lilley, Kathleen (2014). “Educating Global Citizens: Translating the ‘Idea’ into University Organisational Practice” August 2014 on the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) ‘Fostering Global Citizenship and Global Competence: A National Symposium’ web page [Online] Cited 21/11/2014