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May 03, 2023 / 12:13

Alumni bridge Australia and Vietnam

Alumni are regarded ambassadors to strengthen Australia and Vietnam relations amid joint efforts to work together on a variety of educational and training projects.

Vietnamese people who studied in Australia have contributed to Vietnam’s development and acted as ambassadors to foster bilateral relationship.

 Australian Trade and Tourism Minister, Senator the Hon Don Farrell praises the role of alumni in Australia-Vietnam relations. Photo: Embassy of Australia in Hanoi

Australian Trade and Tourism Minister, Senator the Hon Don Farrell has praised the role of alumni’s contributions to Vietnam and Australia bilateral relations.

Alumni help to add depth to Australia's economic diplomacy, building trade, investment, and business linkages, not only in Vietnam, but more broadly in the Southeast Asian region, Senator Don Farrell said during a visit to Vietnam last month.

The senator made the remarks at the inauguration of the Australian Alumni Awards to honor the achievements of those Vietnamese who have studied in Australia. It was a particularly fitting celebration during the 50th year of the Australia-Vietnam diplomatic relationship.

From more than 200 nominations, eighteen alumni were finalists and six of these received awards across six categories: Alumni of the Year, Business and Innovation, Women in Leadership, Social Action, Young Alumni, and Climate Action.

Award winners were just a small portion of the many alumni who are leaders in their fields, contributing to Vietnam's development and acting as ambassadors for our bilateral relationship.

Chairman of the Vietnam-Australia Friendship Association, Prof Tran Van Nhung, who was a member of the Award Assessment panel, commented that many award nominations which showcase significant contributions are different but of equal importance to Vietnam’s development, to the stability and growth of the region and the world.

Addressing the event, Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Andrew Goledzinowski highlighted the role of alumni who represent close connections between the two countries.

According to him, there have between 80,000 and 100,000 Vietnamese students who studied in Australia and returned to Vietnam. They are now building their careers in business, in government and elsewhere. That is an important element of the people-to-people links as well.

All of this says that there's going to be a very bright future for the two countries in terms of those people-to-people connections.

Education: Long-lasting cooperation

Education is at the heart of the bilateral relationship between Vietnam and Australia. With the first scholarship in 1974, there are now more than 6,500 Australia Awards Scholarships alumni, contributing to the community of over 80,000 Australian alumni in Vietnam.

Since 1994, the Australian Education International (AEI) has represented the Commonwealth Department of Education in Vietnam with responsibility for strengthening government-to-government engagement with counterparts in education, training, and research.

It’s also tasked with supporting and influencing education reform and policy development in Vietnam, whilst showcasing the Australian education system; facilitating partnerships, collaboration and linkages, staff and student exchange, and cooperation in research; and increasing student and academic mobility from Australia into Vietnam.

Education supports Vietnam to have the skills it needs to grow and tackle emerging challenges and opportunities. It also helps our two countries understand each other better through friendships, travel, and study.

Australia collaborates on many education and training initiatives with Vietnam, facilitating institution-to-institution partnerships and supporting vibrant Australian alumni associations.

Last year, Australia extended support in developing human resources for Vietnam in a program worth AUD50.1 million (US$37.5 million) for 2021-2025.

Accordingly, the Australian Government will offer Australia Awards Scholarships for Vietnamese citizens to undertake fully funded studies at Australian universities, deliver Australian alumni professional development activities, and implement higher education capacity-building activities with university leaders.

The partnerships have contributed to Vietnam’s continued socio-economic development across a wide range of priority sectors, such as governance and economic growth, infrastructure and transport, water and sanitation, education, gender equality, and agriculture and rural development.

Australia is a leading education destination for Vietnamese students, with more than 26,000 Vietnamese students in Australia in 2019. Vietnam is Australia’s fifth largest source of foreign students, according to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

The need for training in areas such as English language, business and management, and information technology in Vietnam remains high, especially in the major urban centers, fueling the education cooperation with Australia.