Universities Australia strongly supports the development of a unified Asian engagement strategy. Education is a pivotal aspect of Australia-Asia engagement and therefore warrants significant attention when considering the challenges and opportunities arising from the Asian Century.
As well as advancing conventional diplomacy and trade, international education is a significant driver of public diplomacy, through creating a positive image for Australia and providing means to exert influence. Public diplomacy, or soft power, is essential to achieving an effective foreign policy and universities are the natural medium through which to exercise that soft power. Australian university alumni occupy influential positions across Asian governments, most notably in China, India, Malaysia and Singapore, as well as high level positions in international NGOs such the World Bank. Australian universities are educating an elite group of graduates who inevitably will become some of our best advocates.
Universities Australia was pleased with the recommendation contained in the white paper and welcomes the development of country strategies by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in consultation with the university sector and other stakeholders.