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Survey highlights alumni’s contributions to development

Posted: 27 May 2021

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

Australia Awards programs globally support Scholarship recipients and Short Course participants to develop skills and knowledge, and build networks to drive change and contribute to development in their home countries.

A recent survey of Australia Awards graduates from South Asian countries showcases evidence that Scholarship and Short Course alumni are using their new knowledge, skills and experience in their current employment. The survey also highlights how alumni are passing on their knowledge and skills to others; how they perceived their time in Australia; and what relationships they have built with other alumni and people they met through Australia Awards.

The Alumni Development Impact Survey takes place every April and September. It has been used in South (and West) Asian countries for 10 years, and is reviewed and updated annually. Alumni who completed their Scholarship approximately 18 months before the survey date or who participated in a Short Course around 6 to 12 months before the survey date are invited to participate. The Alumni Development Impact Survey originally involved a combination of in-person interviews and an online survey; however, due to COVID-19, all participating alumni are currently surveyed online only.

Key findings from the April 2021 Alumni Development Impact Survey of alumni from South Asia are summarised below.

Australia Awards Scholarship alumni

Thirty-four Scholarship alumni from South Asia (50% women and 50% men) participated in the most recent survey. Of these alumni, 94% said they were employed and applying the skills and knowledge they gained while studying in Australia in their current workplaces.

Nearly all respondents (97%) said that their Australian education helped to address their skills gaps, equipping them to more capably contribute to their country’s development. Participants also noted that the soft skills they acquired—such as improved research, communication and writing skills—had supported them in their personal and professional lives.

One of the participants from Pakistan said, “On my return from Australia I was appointed with the Chairman of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to work in the newly established Chairman’s Strategy Implementation Unit. I was also assigned to represent Pakistan Customs in the newly established Reforms & Modernisation Wing. This role provided me a good opportunity to utilise my newly gained knowledge and skills through my Master of Customs Administration. I gave meaningful suggestions regarding measures for modernisation, structural, automation and human resource reforms of the FBR in line with the best international standards/practices.”

When questioned about whether they had established relationships through Australia Awards, all survey participants said that they had built relationships with fellow Scholarship students from other countries who they met in Australia. Eighty-five percent said they had developed relationships with professors, lecturers and other staff from their Scholarship university, while 88% said they had formed relationships with Australian students from their university.

This graph shows the percentage of alumni who are maintaining formal and informal linkages they developed through Australia Awards (as a percentage of the survey sample)

The vast majority of participants (94%) perceived Australia as a country offering opportunities to people of different cultures. All participants said that the Australian university system offers high quality education standards.

The survey asked what participants saw as their greatest workplace achievement that drew on their Australia Awards experience. In response, a participant from Pakistan said, “I came back from Australia as a more positive person who was self-aware and self-motivated. I developed a better understanding of my personal values and learnt to empathise. I feel that during my stay in Australia I grasped a better understanding of pluralism, which helped me a lot in adjusting to a new workplace with people from a diversified background.”

A participant from Nepal said her Australia Awards experience enabled her to take on new initiatives in her workplace.

“I have gained strong academic research skills, which I am trying to transfer to my students and early career academics in Nepal through different workshops and professional development programs.

“Having completed my PhD from a reputed Scholarship and university in Australia, people are more respectful towards me than before as a woman academic in Nepal. In addition to that, the academic experiences in Australia have enabled me to take initiatives such as write grant applications for university collaborations and also collaborations with local government and development organisations in Nepal.”

Australia Awards Short Course alumni

Forty-eight Short Course alumni from South Asia (48% women and 52% men) participated in the most recent survey. Of these alumni, 90% said they were currently employed, with the majority being employed in the public sector. Amongst the alumni that were employed, almost all respondents (98%) agreed that the Short Course they completed was relevant to their current employment.

All participants agreed that the Short Course helped them to address their skills gaps in supporting the development needs of their country.

The survey asked participants to identify the top three factors that have assisted them to apply their new knowledge and skills since completing their Short Course. Overall, the top three factors were:

  • The course was relevant to their current employment (75% of respondents)
  • Increased confidence in their own abilities (69%)
  • Professional networks that participants established during the Short Course (52%).

This graph shows the percentage of alumni who built different types of linkages while participating on their Short Course

Development of soft skills—such as improved research, communication and writing skills—is an important learning outcome of Australia Awards, and the survey responses showed that outcomes in this area for Short Courses were nearly as successful as those for Scholarships. Ninety-two percent of the survey participants said that they were using the soft skills they acquired while on their course in their personal and professional lives. Furthermore, 77% of respondents believed that their Short Course would assist them to gain a promotion in their workplace in the future—and 100% believed that the Short Course had enhanced their self-confidence.

Australia Awards alumni from South Asia are driving change and contributing to the economic and social development of their countries and region. Explore our collection of stories about alumni who are achieving significant outcomes.