Australia’s future is increasingly connected with Asia. Preparing young Australians to learn and understand about the people, cultures, societies as well as professional practices of this region is critical to Australia’s economy and prosperity. This Future Fellowship project explores Australian students’ learning in and engagement with Asia through the New Colombo Plan (NCP) program. Using a multi-method research design, it examines two issues of vital importance for universities and the nation: (1) the learning and engagement of Australian STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) students in Asia; and (2) the effects of their learning and regional engagement. The project addresses a critical need to have nuanced understandings of the longer term impacts of mobility experiences in Asia for all students and for the possibility of using student mobility to Asia as a mechanism of public diplomacy. It aims to generate practical recommendations based on sound theoretical perspectives and multi-dimensional empirical research that looks closely at different stakeholder views.

The project aims to:

  1. Advance empirical knowledge by identifying and explaining the nature of Australian STEM students’ learning in and engagement with Asia through the NCP program;
  2. Analyse whether and how their learning and engagement with Asia affects their identity, career directions and future;
  3. Identify how universities can engage students in post-study abroad activities to support the integration of the study-abroad experiences and extend them for educational purposes;
  4. Identify the implications of the findings for government and institutional policy and practice for maximising the potential benefits and impacts of students’ learning in and engagement with Asia.

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