Australia’s ‘diaspora strategy’

Christopher Ziguras looks at how Australia's universities are seeking to build stronger relationships with alumni

September 15, 2016
People pulling rope during tug of war festival
Source: Alamy

The most interesting initiative in Australia’s “steady as she goes” National Strategy for International Education, which was launched earlier this year, is the government’s aspiration to engage more deeply with alumni.

There are more than 2.5 million international graduates who have studied in Australia, and hundreds of thousands more who have graduated from Australian programmes delivered abroad. While Australian alumni groups have existed in many countries for a long time, the growing importance of transnational online social networks is spurring education providers, and now governments, to significantly ramp up their efforts to engage with these communities. 

This alumni strategy is becoming integrated with existing government efforts to engage with and harness the million or more Australian citizens living abroad. The main government-supported diaspora organisation, Advance, was formed in 2002 in New York City to connect Australian expatriates in the US before becoming a global organisation, and has recently expanded its remit to also include “alumni of Australian universities and ‘friends of Australia’”. 

Similarly, in recent years we have also seen considerable interest in the role of migrant communities in shaping Australia’s economic, educational and cultural engagement with the rest of the world.

The Australian Council of Learned Academies has been leading this thinking, with two excellent reports focusing on those of Asian background in Australia (Smart Engagement with Asia: Leveraging Language, Research and Culture, and Australia’s Diaspora Advantage: Realising the Potential for Building Transnational Networks with Asia).

There is a growing awareness of the ways in which international education in Australia is both shaped by and actively creates highly networked and enduring transnational communities. Many of our local students are of migrant backgrounds (a third of Melbourne’s population was born overseas, for example), and many of the new international students who come to Australia have family and friends who have lived or studied in Australia.

These students are immersed before, during and after their studies in social networks that extend across borders. Right now, education providers and the government are scrambling to enmesh themselves into those networks, and this is perhaps the most exciting area of innovation in Australian international education today. 

Christopher Ziguras is president of the International Education Association of Australia. He spoke at the EAIE conference on Thursday 15 September. 


Write for our blog platform

If you are interested in blogging for us, please email chris.parr@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

POSTSCRIPT:

Print headline: Stay in touch: Australia’s universities look to build stronger ties with overseas graduates

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest