11 April 2024

AUS-AUN Engagement: AUN Secretariat’s Dynamic Dialogue with the Department of Education and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia

Ninnart Ratanasukhon
AUN Programme Officer;

From 27-29 February 2024, the AUN Secretariat, led by Dr. Choltis Dhirathiti, AUN Executive Director, had the honour of meeting with the Department of Education and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia in Canberra, Australia. The meeting provided valuable opportunities for the AUN Secretariat to exchange insights and explore areas of priorities between ASEAN and Australia, along with learning the latest advancement of the New Colombo Plan and Australia for ASEAN (Aus4ASEAN) Programme which are driving people-to-people exchanges between the two regions.

Department of Education, Australia

On 27 February, The AUN Secretariat had the opportunity to meet with the Country Engagement Division, Department of Education, Australia, led by Ms. Sophie Fisher, Director. The meeting set a valuable stage for the AUN Secretariat to exchange insights and mutual priorities with the Department of Education. Special regards were given to the development of qualifications recognition, which constitutes one of the AUN’s flagship high-impact programmes under the CALOHEA Project. The meeting allowed for a fruitful exchange of insights on professional qualifications recognition system, process, development, and agreement.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia - New Colombo Plan Programme

The AUN Secretariat was honoured by Mr. Sankalp Sheikhar, Assistant Director, New Colombo Plan, Global Programmes and Partnerships Branch, Development Policy Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 

The New Colombo Plan (NCP) is an initiative by the Australian Government to enhance the understanding of the Indo-Pacific region in Australia. The programme includes scholarships and mobility grants for undergraduate Australian students to study and take internships, mentorships, or language training across 40 host locations in the Indo-Pacific region for a minimum duration of 14 days. The programme also supports Australian higher education institutions in developing mobility programmes that will support the goal of New Colombo Plan. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade takes an active role in the organisation and the management of the project, with regular observations and assessments by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s assessors to ensure the maximum outcome and value of the project.

ASEAN, as one of the targeted locations of the plan, could capitalise on the programme and be an active player in supporting the flowing tide of exchange between the two regions and ensuring fulfilling experiences for the scholars as they come to the region. The AUN Secretariat, as the facilitator of collaboration among the leading universities of the region, recognises the importance of academic mobility as the driver for trans-regional understanding and is prepared to assist all AUN Members and Associate Members in this regard.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - ASEAN Programme Section

On 29 February, the AUN Secretariat met with Mr. Peter Adams, Director of the ASEAN Programme Section, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The meeting discussed the Australia for ASEAN (Aus4ASEAN) initiative which serves as the flagship endeavour to advance the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) between ASEAN and Australia. The initiative features “Australian Awards Fellowship,” a scholarship programme     for senior and mid-career officials and professionals of ASEAN who are in a position to advance development outcomes in priority areas and increase the institutional capacity of partner countries through their leadership. 

The scholarship boasts flexibility for Australian institutions to provide professional development activities for candidates through a variety of programmes including but are not limited to: work attachment, supervised research, a management or leadership course, a study tour, program meetings and visits, or a combination of multiple activities. The activities could range from two weeks to 52 weeks. The programme is supported jointly by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and partner Australian organisations. Up to date, 490 ASEAN professionals have been awarded the Australian Awards Fellowship. To learn more about the Australian Awards Fellowship, please visit: 

The meeting with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trades portrayed Australia’s unwavering commitment in strengthening its tie with the ASEAN region through investment in academic programmes including students mobility programmes, pacific-outreach programmes, and scholarships. The AUN Secretariat is thrilled to learn of these partnerships which promise meaningful opportunities for both regions to foster people-to-people ties and work together to nurture the future leaders and talents of both regions.

The AUN Secretariat would like to express its sincerest gratitude to the Department of Education and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for making the meetings possible.

To read more about AUN’s Engagement with the Network’s partners, please visit: