Over fifty years, 2.5 million international students have been attracted to Australia and its world class educational institutions. These international students and the talented Australians who study overseas, including through the New Colombo Plan, make up Australia’s global alumni community. The Australian Government is seeking to connect with, mobilise and celebrate this community to promote Australia and advance our national interests.
As a former Education Minister, and now as Foreign Minister, I have long believed in the transformative power of international student exchange. That’s why the Australian Government is committed to the original Colombo Plan’s successor, the New Colombo Plan and the Australia Awards. It is not just the individual student who benefits from the new insights and skills that they acquire—these experiences also help shape the way countries and their citizens engage with, and understand, each other.
The Australia Global Alumni Engagement Strategy (the Strategy) is a whole of government public diplomacy initiative that has been developed in collaboration with Australia’s tertiary education sector.
Through the Strategy, we will promote connections with and among alumni as they progress through their careers. We will provide opportunities for professional development, shared research and strengthened business connections. To support this, a new Australia Global Alumni interactive website and an Australia Global Alumni LinkedIn page have been developed. These e-diplomacy initiatives will connect Australia’s Global Alumni for the first time and will facilitate professional networks and strengthen linkages with Australia.
Australia’s international alumni are influencers and leaders. The Strategy celebrates their achievements. It will grow a global alumni community that continues a deep connection with Australia and strengthens Australia’s connection with the region.
Julie Bishop MP
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Australia Global Alumni Engagement Strategy: The Blueprint
Australia’s diverse and talented global alumni are a vital diplomatic asset
The Australia Global Alumni Engagement Strategy 2016–2020 takes an inclusive approach to Australia’s global alumni, recognising the two-way flow of Australia’s international education.
Alumni contribute in many ways to Australia’s influence and standing in our region and globally. Engaging our alumni is a public diplomacy priority. Through our alumni, we can:
- strengthen our diplomatic access and influence
- grow our trade, investment and business linkages
- promote our capabilities and credentials in education, science, research and innovation
- showcase Australia as a contemporary, innovative, open society.
Strengthening our diplomatic access and influence
We will develop and widen our alumni networks. Many of our alumni sit in positions of influence around the region. They help us understand and interpret key issues. They open doors for diplomats and business, facilitate research and industry linkages, represent the quality of our educational institutions and speak out on our behalf.
Alumni promote Australia’s capabilities and expertise. They help us in the broader endeavour to lift prosperity and to promote gender equality and other shared values across our region and globally.
Through their talents and expertise, alumni contribute to improving development outcomes in their own communities. They partner with us in promoting key regional projects spanning infrastructure, global health, agriculture, fisheries, water management, governance and education.
Our ability to connect within our own region, the Indo-Pacific, is underpinned by enduring relationships forged through Australia’s longstanding commitment to international education. These valued alumni relationships extend the reach and impact of our existing diplomatic network.
Young Australians are also travelling to live, work and study in our region through the New Colombo Plan, universities, businesses and with the support of host governments. This is creating exciting opportunities to connect to our region like never before.
Alumni help us to understand our region and to engage and influence wider audiences in the region and around the world.
Peggy Hartanto: a new force in world fashion
Peggy Hartanto was born in Indonesia and raised on the island of Java.
She moved to Sydney in 2006 and studied fashion at Raffles College of Design and Commerce.
Peggy’s hard work and dedication to her craft paid off. She graduated in 2009 with several awards, including an Award for Excellence in Fashion Design. After completing her studies, she was offered a job in one of Australia’s prestigious high-end fashion brands, Collette Dinnigan.
The skills she gained while studying in Australia and her passion for high-end, ready-to-wear design have made Peggy Hartanto an emerging force in world fashion. She has been described as one of Indonesia’s ‘next big things’, and she is willing and more than ready to expand the Peggy Hartanto label to the international market.
Growing our trade, investment and business linkages
We will engage with alumni to strengthen Australia’s economic diplomacy, building trade, investment and business linkages in the region and beyond.
As business leaders, entrepreneurs and employees, our alumni can identify and broker new connections and partnerships for Australian business. They help us to identify and understand key markets and add depth to our regional and global business relationships.
Because of their affinity with Australia, our alumni are active consumers and promoters of Australian goods and services in the region and further afield.
We will connect alumni to Australian business missions, trade delegations and industry forums. We will encourage their ongoing investment in Australia and create opportunities to widen their exposure to Australian goods and services.
With the support of an Australian education experience, our alumni make a positive contribution to our global future.
Promoting our capabilities and credentials in education, science, research and innovation
We will create opportunities for research-focused alumni to connect, share perspectives and build partnerships with Australian research institutions. Doing so will enhance Australia’s place at the cutting edge of regional and global research and development.
In 2014–15, the Australian Government invested more than $9 billion in science, research and innovation1. Our relationships with Australia’s global alumni help to maximise the benefits of this investment. They bring unique experiences, insights and ideas that add value to Australian research and innovation, including in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Our alumni contribute to Australia’s ongoing competitiveness in education, science, research and innovation. They reflect positively on the quality of our expertise. They inform, invite and encourage others to consider Australian educational institutions and Australia as destinations for study. Alumni bring authenticity to our message.
We aim to encourage a wider network of research projects and industry connections that can contribute to innovative thinking and problem solving to address global challenges.
Showcasing Australia as a contemporary, innovative, open society
We will mobilise our alumni, who are often among our best representatives, strongest supporters and most credible advocates abroad.
Alumni embody Australia’s open society and reflect our engagement in the region and the world. They present an informed view of Australia—our values, our way of life, our opportunities—to the rest of the world. They promote Australia as a destination of choice to study, invest and play.
Alumni help us understand our place in the region and the world. They broaden our cultural perspectives and enrich our community.
By celebrating their achievements and expertise in Australia and globally, we will demonstrate how we value our alumni and their contribution to Australia’s global outlook.
Australia’s global alumni: chasing the future
Ruchir Punjabi founded the digital agency Langoor in his student apartment in inner-city Sydney while completing his Bachelor of Computer Science at the University of Sydney. Langoor now employs 150 people in Sydney, Melbourne, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Hong Kong and Singapore.
See more at: www.australiaunlimited.com/futurechasers/
The case for alumni engagement has never been more compelling
International education—our largest services export—contributed $17.6 billion to the Australian economy in 2014 and $19.65 billion to the Australian economy in 2015. With two-way international education growing at unprecedented rates, our global alumni community—already estimated at about 2.5 million—is set to grow.
Decades of alumni engagement across Australia’s diplomatic network underscore the positive and lasting impact of our global alumni connections. However, the potential of these efforts is yet to be fully realised.
The Australia Global Alumni Engagement Strategy, a whole-of-government strategy led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), repositions alumni engagement as a public diplomacy priority.
Implementing the strategy will amplify our diplomatic, trade and investment opportunities, promote our capabilities and credentials, and showcase Australia within the region and globally.
The size of the diplomatic post will influence the approach taken to engage with alumni in promoting Australia and our national interests. Engagement may extend to building
relationships with leaders in government and business or one-off activities and projects in local communities.
Alumni stand to benefit from a more deliberate, consistent and coordinated approach to Australia’s engagement with them.
They will be better linked to resources, people and networks around the world.
By engaging alumni more actively, we can support their professional development and encourage them to participate in the economy and decision-making in their own communities.
By celebrating and showcasing alumni’s achievements and expertise in Australia and abroad, we can enhance their professional profile, employability and career prospects.
Australians who have studied abroad will contribute to Australia’s future prosperity through their knowledge of the region and their personal and professional networks overseas.
Thephasone Xaixana: An entrepreneur who uses her Australian education to preserve and promote Lao heritage
In cities and villages across Lao, women wear colourful traditional skirts, with detailed embroidery decorating their hems. Each of these distinctively Lao costumes can take weeks or even months to weave. Australia Awards alumni Thephasone Xaixana, or Touk, is passionate about ensuring that this traditional art form thrives and is shared with the world.
‘I think that in many countries this kind of handicraft is dying. I think that’s because it’s often not relevant to the current generation.’
Touk received an Australia Awards Scholarship to study International Business at Swinburne University in Melbourne. ‘The teachers are so open-minded, lively, positive, and there to help you.’
‘In Australia you have people from different backgrounds… being mingled with different cultures, which really opens up your world.’
Touk’s qualification and experience in Australia is now helping her and her business Maicome to reach the next level.
Not only has Maicome’s new approach helped this Lao traditional art to flourish in the modern world, but it has also been instrumental in creating hundreds of jobs for women. ‘It’s a family kind of environment here and that is what attracts more weavers to come and
work with us.’
To grow a global alumni community that actively engages and promotes Australia and advances our national interests, especially in the Indo-Pacific
DFAT leads the Australian Government’s global alumni engagement efforts with government partners in Australia and throughout the diplomatic network.
- DFAT’s contribution comes from its capacity to leverage the prestige, access and reach of our global diplomatic network
- the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) plays a key role by linking alumni to Australian business, trade, investment, education and tourism interests, including through trade delegations, forums, business networking events, international education expositions and career fairs
- the Department of Education and Training supports deep and lasting engagement with alumni to promote enduring education and research connections with the Indo-Pacific region and other parts of the world.
This Strategy reflects our shared commitment to work together, exchange ideas and maximise our alumni engagement outcomes in Australia and across Australia’s diplomatic network.
We recognise the primary role that Australia’s education sector—particularly Australia’s universities—play in building lifelong connections with current and former students in Australia and overseas.
Activities implemented under the Strategy will be designed to complement and add value to existing efforts of others.
Wherever possible, universities and other stakeholders will be invited to opt in and partner with the Australian Government on alumni engagement.
Dr Boediono: 11th Vice President of Indonesia
Dr Boediono was awarded a Colombo Plan scholarship to study economics at the University of Western Australia (UWA) in Perth, graduating in 1967.
In 1972 he completed a Masters in Economics at Monash University, Melbourne.
In 2012 Dr Boediono was recognised by UWA for his contribution to global affairs with an Honorary Doctorate. Then in February 2013, he was awarded the Doctors of Laws, the highest award bestowed by Monash University.
The value proposition
Purposeful alumni engagement builds on the shared interests of the Australian Government, our alumni and key stakeholders.
Benefits to Australia
||Benefits to alumni
||Benefits to key stakeholders
Enhanced influence, access and outreach, especially at the diplomatic level
Improved access and connectivity to other alumni and alumni networks in Australia, the region and globally
Prestige and increased recognition through the Australian Government’s promotion of alumni
Deeper and wider trade and investment linkages in the region and globally
New opportunities to build meaningful connections with Australian business and research institutions
Increased opportunities to connect alumni to research and business
Raised awareness of Australia’s capabilities and credentials, especially in education, science, research and innovation
Raised visibility of achievements within their own country and through ongoing connections to Australia
Raised visibility of institutional, academic and research capabilities and expertise
Improved reputation as a contemporary, innovative, open society that is actively engaged with our region and the world
Increased access to specialised and tailored professional and leadership development
New opportunities to
support women in participating in decision-making and leadership within their communities
and leadership development offerings for alumni
Better and stronger working relationships across government and with universities and other educational institutions
Increased opportunities for alumni to stay connected to their Australian identity and experiences and to share them with others
Increased opportunities for Australians who have studied overseas to build enduring personal and professional networks and institutional links in the region or abroad and to share them with others
Coordinated and timely access to information, knowledge and resources about alumni engagement through the diplomatic network
The Strategy embraces the diversity in Australia’s global alumni community and supports engagement with alumni in all life stages. Special emphasis is placed on leadership, particularly current and emerging leaders, alumni of Australian Government funded award programs and postgraduate researchers.
A tiered leadership approach accommodates the diverse and changing stages of the professional journeys of alumni. Through an emphasis on leadership, we can encourage and enable alumni to participate in decision-making in their communities and globally. Over time, this approach will enable broader and deeper relationships with our alumni, underscored by a genuine and mutual bond to Australia.
Highly influential alumni
We will build deeper relationships with highly influential alumni—current and emerging leaders and influencers in their chosen fields and communities—through direct, personalised and tailored engagement. Our engagement will emphasise dialogue and recognise leadership.
Our highly influential alumni are the champions, mentors and leaders of Australia’s global alumni engagement. Because of their level of influence, they shape perceptions, open doors, build networks and drive new business.
We will engage with alumni who are gaining professional expertise and influence. Many will be developing their professional networks and their careers. For many, whose engagement is likely to be constrained as they balance other work, family and life priorities, a niche engagement approach is suggested. This includes engagement through online and social media channels and some tailored engagement. Examples could include mentoring programs and promoting leadership and professional development, especially for women, who in many countries face particular challenges in their career development.
The engagement of new alumni will emphasise digital connections to link them to each other and to the wider alumni community, including alumni associations. The emphasis of broad engagement will be on developing networking skills, highlighting career opportunities and supporting professional development. Asia and a bright future are definitely on the horizon
Through his New Colombo Plan scholarship, Pratul Awasthi completed a semester of his Mechanical Engineering degree at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and undertook an internship with Telstra there. His experience was designed to enable him to work in multiple teams and to grow a professional network.
After his internship, Telstra offered him a job in Singapore, but it wasn’t the right time for Pratul, who returned to Australia to complete his studies. The New Colombo Plan scholarship has broadened Pratul’s horizons and he plans to make a lasting contribution to Australia’s relationship with our region as he progresses in his career.
From strategy to action: models of engagement
|Highly influential alumni
Current and emerging leaders, including government-funded scholarship recipients and researchers
Strong interest in engagement and a desire to ‘give back’. Direct, tailored engagement preferred, with an emphasis on dialogue and recognition
Professional alumni gaining in influence and building their expertise and networks
Some interest in engagement. Seeking to build their networks and expertise and advance their careers
New alumni seeking to explore and develop their career networks and expertise
High interest in engagement, with an emphasis on connecting to other alumni, developing professional networks and gaining career opportunities
Develop and roll out the Australia Global Alumni interactive website
Establish and resource an online community of practice for people working with alumni
Connect with the Australian Government and other alumni through the Australian Global Alumni website
Engage through social
Identify and connect through graduations
Engage through social media channels and the Australia Global Alumni website
Direct to alumni associations
Engage in policy dialogues with senior officials and trade, political, business and cultural missions and delegations
Invite to participate in mentoring programs as mentors
Create high-value engagement opportunities, such as science and research seminars and collaborations
Provide some tailored contact with specific industry focus (business/investment linkages)
Invite to participate in professional and leadership development initiatives
Invite to participate in mentoring programs as mentees
Connect with local organisations, such as Australian chambers of commerce or alumni associations
Invite to share experiences of studying in Australia with prospective students
Encourage involvement in alumni associations and networks
Invite to participate in specific activities for new alumni such as welcome home events and activities to support professional development
Showcase through digital profiles
Provide legacy opportunities, including through country/regionally focused alumni achievement awards
Invite to present and deliver seminars, promotions and regional speaker initiatives
Invite to attend seminars, promotions and regional speaker initiatives
Engage through country/regionally focused alumni achievement awards
Invite alumni to deliver keynote speeches and join in high-profile regional speaker tours
Engage through country/regionally focused alumni achievement awards
The strategic actions are informed by the broad experiences, challenges and aspirations of our diplomatic network, our global alumni and other key stakeholders. Each strategic action builds and extends the diverse alumni engagement activity already occurring across the network.
Together, these actions reflect deliberate steps to enable a coordinated, cohesive and consistent approach to alumni engagement that will deepen and strengthen Australia’s international connections. They will complement the activities of universities and other key stakeholders and bring tangible benefits to alumni.
We will connect alumni to Australia and each other across disciplines, educational institutions and the globe. We will connect people who work with alumni across the diplomatic network and universities to improve coordination, share good practice and create opportunities for collaboration.
- Develop and roll out the Australia Global Alumni Australia Awards Endeavour Fellowship interactive website
- Establish and resource Australia Awards Endeavour Fellowship for people working with alumni
- Develop solutions to manage data for highly influential alumni
- Identify avenues to facilitate alumni outreach, including through digital engagement.
We will mobilise engagement by stimulating productive dialogue and partnerships between alumni, the Australian Government, business and research communities. In turn, alumni will have access to professional development opportunities and networks.
- Mobilise alumni ambassadors
- Engage alumni in policy and trade dialogues and business missions
- Foster alumni research connections through research, science and innovation seminars
- Establish mentoring linkages between alumni and foster women’s leadership development
- Support business linkages.
We will celebrate the achievements of Australia’s alumni and ongoing linkages between alumni and Australia, especially in the areas of education, science, research and innovation.
- Collect and curate a library of digital profiles of Australia’s global alumni and of Australians who have studied in the Indo-Pacific region
- Profile alumni business connections online and through publications such as Business Envoy
- Invite alumni to deliver and participate in high-profile regional speaker tours.
Endeavour Research Fellowship for Indigenous Australians
Aunty Kerrie, Associate Professor, Indigenous Health, RMIT Melbourne, is now at the National Centre of Indigenous Studies, Australian National University, finalising a PhD on the risk and protective factors for psychological distress in Indigenous people.
Under an Australia Awards Endeavour Fellowship, she worked with the national Maori performing arts organisation, Te Matatini, on a research project that found urban Maori women are at a higher risk of psychological distress than other people in New Zealand.
Aunty Kerrie wanted to give something back to the community, so she held lectures on health for Indigenous people. ‘I stayed in a Maori community with a lot of poverty, poor health and drug-taking behaviour. I organised a weekly group “yarn-up” where young people could come and learn singing, and how to read music.’
Aunty Kerrie says her Endeavour Fellowship has been life-changing. ‘It paved the way for me to go to Oxford. The best thing about my experience was developing an understanding of how similar people are. I am grateful to have had the opportunity.’