Educating the next generation of leaders

For more than 60 years, the Australian Government has supported the education of emerging leaders from developing countries, through the Colombo Plan in the 1950s to today’s Australia Awards. More recently, the New Colombo Plan is supporting Australian undergraduates to live, work and study in our region. This two-way exchange helps underpin Australia’s relationships within the region and the broader global community.

The Australia Awards Global Tracer Facility was established to better understand the long-term outcomes for alumni and conduct ongoing monitoring and evaluation to ensure continued effectiveness of the program. The Facility recently collected data from over 1,000 alumni from 36 different countries, who had completed an Australia Awards or predecessor scholarship in Australia between 1996 and 2005. The latest survey reveals that many alumni are now senior leaders, sharing their skills and knowledge with colleagues, and contributing to the sustainable development of their countries.

The results provide a valuable insight into how mid-career alumni are using their knowledge and skills, developing networks, and strengthening ties with Australia. Some 97 per cent of alumni surveyed indicated they had introduced improved practices and innovations in their work. Many alumni were not only sharing their knowledge in formal roles, but also informally, as trainers and mentors within their field and building the capacity of their colleagues.

An alumnus from Pakistan demonstrated his impact on the next generation of Pakistani academics through supervising post-graduate students: “I have produced 8 PhDs and 39 Masters of Philosophy –  I reckon this is a sufficient number in just 14 years after my return from Australia.”

The results also found that many alumni are contributing to community development activities on their return home, supporting development across a range of fields including in health, agriculture and the environment. One alumna in Kenya reported she was using the skills she gained in Australia to support women in her country to improve food security.

Many alumni indicated they are still connected with fellow awardees, often through formal alumni associations or groups within their countries. Some cited the difficulty of staying connected with friends and networks made in Australia due to limited access to the internet and social media. However, nearly half of alumni reported ongoing professional links with Australian organisations (such as universities, private sector and non-government organisations) since returning to their home countries.

The research found that 97 per cent of alumni view Australia, and Australian expertise, very positively. Alumni continue to promote Australia as a study destination to friends, family and colleagues, helping create the next generation of people-to-people links in our region.

To learn more about the Australia Awards Global Tracer Facility findings and to read the full reports, visit the Global Tracer Facility page.

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