Friday, 13 October 2023

Australian International Education Conference

I am delighted to be with you to deliver the closing address at the annual Australian International Education Conference.

I trust you have had a productive four days, when your thinking has been challenged, your interactions with others have inspired you, and your ambitions for overseas students have been heightened.

I am fortunate to have had many opportunities over the years to engage with the international education sector, including IEAA and IDP, whether as a diplomat, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as governor, or as patron of Study Adelaide.

As DFAT Secretary, I took a close interest in our New Colombo Plan students overseas as well as the many international students studying in Australia.

I have found education to be the cornerstone of many fruitful conversations and at the heart of many influential and long-lived relationships between people across the globe, initially as students and later as alumni.

Education is a driver of development and economic growth and its transformative effects are at once individual and global. There is no doubt in my mind that international education makes the world a better place.

I greatly enjoy my interactions with international students both here in Adelaide and overseas, confident in the belief that our schools, universities and other organisations are offering them not only an excellent education but also a valuable life experience and that the students are both creating and seizing opportunities.

I know Dr Tim Mahlberg Sie from Stone and Chalk and others have presented here on the rise of the international student entrepreneur. It is happening and we should do everything we can to support it.

In encouraging the choice of Australia as a study destination - if more recently, you will understand, with a South Australian slant - I am always keen to extol our world class education system and our welcoming, inclusive, multicultural community.

In my overseas visits as Governor, it has been a privilege to meet alumni from our Adelaide Universities in the United Kingdom, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Malaysia, making outstanding contributions in their home countries, our region and even globally.

In Singapore last year I met a venture capitalist who studied economics at the University of Adelaide in the 1980s. He was a year ahead of me and we had a wonderful conversation about our excellent lecturers and tutors.

He had fond memories of his time in our city and the skills he gained are being put to effective use in developing the region.

In Penang, I met a remarkable woman from that some cohort who had been driving inward investment in Malaysia on a global scale.

We know that international connections will be vital in finding solutions to the world’s economic, social, and environmental challenges and we are fortunate to live in a dynamic neighbourhood – the Indo-Pacific region.

As we increasingly develop momentum in industries such as defence, space, clean energy, AI, advanced manufacturing, medical science, we will require international co-operation, collaborative partnerships and sharing of expertise.

Our Australian education institutions will not only educate the leaders of tomorrow but will contribute to ground-breaking research in partnership with industry.

As a country, we are enriched by the strengthening of connections and the two-way cultural exchange that international education brings.

Because at its heart, international education is “visionary and transformative.”

Thank you for the role you play in making sure it is so.

Coming events