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Survey highlights benefits of Australia Awards Scholarships and Short Courses

Posted: 13 December 2023

Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Alumni, Experience, Impact,

In June 2023, Australia Awards – South Asia & Mongolia conducted an Alumni Development Impact Survey (ADIS) with Australia Awards alumni from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The survey collected responses from those who had completed a Scholarship either 18–24 or 36–42 months before the survey date or participated in a Short Course approximately 6 to 12 months before the survey date.

A total of 166 people took part in the survey: 81 Scholarship alumni (34 women, 47 men) and 85 Short Course alumni (48 women, 37 men). Three of the Scholarship alumni (all male) and one Short Course alumnus were people with disability.

Of the regional Scholarship alumni, 98% reported that they had a positive experience in Australia, while 95% reported that their families had a positive experience in Australia. The following figures show the percentages disaggregated by country and gender (the graph below shows no data for females in Maldives, due to the fact that no Maldivian women from Maldives took part in the survey).

A key highlight from the survey is that 99% of the Scholarship alumni surveyed regionally either agreed or strongly agreed that their Australia Awards experience was the best way to build skills, networks and experience, helping them to progress in their career and life. These figures are indicative of how Australia Awards participation makes a significant contribution in supporting alumni to advance in their professional careers. As the following disaggregated figure shows, in most countries this view was held by 100% of respondents.

Similarly, Short Course alumni shared positive reflections on how their Australia Awards Short Course had assisted their professional development, as highlighted below.

The survey also asked participants to provide examples of how they have used the skills and knowledge they developed through their Australia Awards experience. These responses make interesting reading and show the many ways in which Australia Awards benefits participants and their countries.

For example, one Scholarship alumnus from Sri Lanka said, “In addition to the technical knowledge I gathered during my master’s degree program, I developed many soft skills and communication skills. These skills are helping me a lot to do my duties more effectively than before. At my current position I have to do many presentations to government and non-government organisations, and effective communication has been a big help to get their support.”

Research skills were key for a Scholarship alumna from Nepal, who said, “I have developed the skills to research and develop proposals with detailed activities for creating a resilient community health project to ensure the communities get better health facilities and health professionals are capacitated.”

Similarly, a Scholarship alumna from Pakistan wrote, “My job involves research, report writing and networking. I developed these skills at a professional level during my stay in Australia. I am able to make informed policy decisions based on research and analysis skills.”

One Scholarship alumnus from Bangladesh is applying his education in educating others: “My education in Australia reshaped my pedagogical practices. Now I focus on developing appropriate activities to increase learner engagement and ensuring a student-fronted classroom.”

A Short Course alumnus from Sri Lanka is also using his Australia Awards experience in the education field. He said, “I had made contacts with TAFE Queensland and Charles Darwin University to explore the possibility to deliver Australian TVET qualifications in Sri Lanka. It has been very successful […] We are already planning to commence the training courses in July 2023.”

Alumni’s desire to share their Australian knowledge was a theme among many responses. A Short Course alumna from Mongolia said, “I organised training in remote areas where farmers have limited access to information and knowledge. During the training, I introduced learning and findings from the Short Course. It was so new and interesting for farmers.” And a Short Course alumna from Bangladesh said, “I have organised an awareness building seminar among all officers and staff of my organisation with Q&A sessions and a way forward.”

Leadership was another recurring skill. A Scholarship alumnus from Mongolia said, “In my current position, I am leading a team of data scientists whose primary aim is to provide information and insights that can be used to facilitate better decision-making at higher levels at my organisation. It is one of the examples [of how] I am utilising what I’ve learned from my study in Australia.”

Likewise, a Short Course alumna from Sri Lanka mentioned, “One of the skills I developed during the Short Course was strategic project management. I had the opportunity to apply this knowledge when I was assigned the task of leading a digital transformation project within my bank. The purpose of the project was to streamline internal processes, enhance customer experience and improve operational efficiency.”

Finally, the survey results show that Australia Awards are helping alumni to build and maintain networks regionally and with Australia. Nearly half of the Scholarship alumni respondents still maintain contact with lecturers and staff at the Australian university where they studied, while more than a third network with Australian students and around three-quarters remain in touch with fellow students from their own country or the region. The following figure shows a broader overview of the responses on this topic.

Speaking about the professional connections he made to enhance his career back in Mongolia, one Scholarship alumnus said, “I established a partnership with [an] independent publisher in Melbourne and started representing them in Mongolia.”

As another example, a Short Course alumna from Sri Lanka said, “I am currently designing a business model in transportation of agricultural produce. As part of the design process, I have collaborated with professors from the University of Queensland and the ACIAR team that I was introduced to as part of my Short Course.”

These connections can also be used for ongoing learning, as mentioned by a Scholarship alumna from Pakistan: “I attend virtual workshops organised by my university. I also stay connected to professors who work in my area of interest.”

The benefits of such links and networks are best exemplified by a Scholarship alumnus from Mongolia, who said, “I have a good relationship with other Australia Awards scholars from my country. This network really helps me a lot, especially when we are collaborating.”

ADIS remains an important way to understand the impact Australia Awards is having in the region, providing a significant understanding into how Australia Awards Scholarships and Short Courses shape the lives of their recipients both academically and professionally, helping them advance further in their careers and achieve their dreams. Australia Awards thanks all participants for their responses.