Need to foster engagement of non-travel dependent Australian-Asian youth

So says Generation Asia Report 1: Keeping Connected reportpublished jointly by the Asia Society Australia and the IEAA, which analyzes the impact of the pandemic on youth engagement in the Australia-Asia region.

Many young leaders in the region recognize “the inherent value of travel” abroad to gain on-the-ground, in-person experiences, cross-cultural skills and language skills, but they also recognize “a growing need to foster forms of regional commitment that are not dependent on travel”.

“[Many] point out that there are other ways to motivate young people to experience difference, develop connections and explore language learning and entrepreneurial opportunities,” the document states.

The post-pandemic world will see a “hybrid and human capital-driven” future engagement, according to the document.

“Alumni of learning abroad, youth-led organizations and alternative transnational education programs play a critical role in fostering and sustaining engagement that is not dependent on travel,” Ly Tran, professor at the School of Education of Deakin Universitytold The PIE.

The latest report explored the ‘enablers’ of Australia-Asia youth connectivity, including: tourism; international education; job; and civic engagement. He revealed that the engagement of international students in Australian education programs in 2020 and 2021 was “not as significant” as the decline seen in tourism and employment.

“International education and civic engagement have boosted Australia-Asia-Pacific youth connectivity during Covid-19,” the paper read.

While the number of 18-35 year olds from Asia-Pacific arriving in Australia “dropped” in April 2020, remaining at very low levels throughout 2021, new modes of delivery, such as distance learning via online platforms and offshore study centers have emerged.

The study offers a “more holistic” view of the effects of Covid-19 on connectivity between young people in Australia and across Asia, Keri Ramirez of To studydeclared.

“When all else stopped, it was education with our bilateral youth associations that allowed us to maintain a degree on the continued connection with the rest of Asia-Pacific,” Jon Chew, Head of analyzes and strategic analyzes at Navitasadded.

“At the end of the day, there is no substitute for face-to-face engagement”

“At the end of the day, there’s no substitute for face-to-face engagement. We’ve seen creative virtual engagement during the pandemic, but I think young people are eager to get back on planes and we’ll likely see an increase in recovery post -pandemic.

He pointed to a “very healthy V-shaped rebound” in the number of international students in the UK, US and Canada. “We hope that now that our borders are open, Australia is not far behind,” he said.

Government statistics show that 584,820 students from Asia-Pacific enrolled in Australian education programs in 2021, up from 711,105 in 2020. In 2018, 682,111 from the region did the same, while in 2019, 754,546 students joined programs.

“The number of student visas granted to international students from some countries in Asia has remained stable over the past two years,” the report continues.

Students enrolling in Australian shore-based education programs while physically outside Australia have been encouraged to apply for student visas to enable them to travel to Australia when schools reopen. borders. It has also ensured that studies undertaken outside the country count towards the qualifying duration for post-study work visas, according to the report.

“A key factor in minimizing the effects of Covid-19 has been significant investment by Australian institutions in developing hybrid and flexible forms of program delivery during the period of travel restrictions,” Ramirez said. And hybrid forms of engagement will continue to develop between two groups of students, he predicted.

“Many reports show that mature students appreciate the flexibility of these new learning models as it allows them to combine their studies with job opportunities,” he explained, while the second group is made up of national australian students.

“For many Australian university students, the cost of overseas travel represents a significant limitation and virtual learning experiences will be an effective alternative to gaining international experience with companies and organizations in Asia.”

“For many Australian university students, the cost of overseas travel represents a significant limitation”

Demand from Australian students for learning abroad programs in Asia-Pacific has remained steady in 2020 and 2021, with interest in virtual mobility peaking in August 2021, the report suggests.

Yet despite the lifting of travel restrictions, demand for virtual mobility continues, he notes.

There is also a need for strategic and ongoing support for students beyond the in-country student experience to “maximize their potential to contribute to the enduring experience of lasting relationships at individual, institutional, national and regional levels. “, continued Tran.

The student and alumni agency in connecting and advocating, regional engagement and networks were expanded to some extent, but remained “largely ad hoc and organic”.

“It is crucial to have a systemic and coordinated approach between the institutions international office, global study/learning abroad office, alumni office and transnational education programs, youth-led organizations and host stakeholders in the Indo-Pacific to support continued youth engagement in regional education linkages,” she explained.

“The role of young people in the space of public diplomacy should be recognized as an important part of international education,” she added.

Previous to research Tran worked on the discovery that “understandings and connections were created not only during students’ learning abroad but also upon their return.” “Connections are not limited in host and home countries,” she noted.

The Keeping Connected report “clearly shows that we don’t have good ways to measure our engagement with Asia, and identifies this as an area of ​​weakness for Australia,” Chew said. “We probably need greater government, institutional and philanthropic investment so that we can measure and manage what matters, and it really matters.”

“What is clear from the report is that we need to listen to young people in Asia and Australia to understand why they want to engage and connect, how they want this to happen and what supports they would like to see,” said he postulated.

“Often we forget the ripple effects that an international experience has in our society,” Ramirez added. “This study is an important reminder that our sector is an important catalyst for better understanding between nations”