Chief Executive of Universities Australia, Belinda Robinson is travelling with the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott as part of a trade delegation to Japan and China.
Ms Robinson said that while Australian universities have long had close relationships with their counterparts in Japan, a new strategy was needed to broaden and deepen higher education engagement between the two countries.
The New Colombo Plan includes Japan as one of four participant nations and is aimed at fostering broader and closer ties between Australia and the region.
Ms Robinson said Australia and Japan were both looking at encouraging graduates who have the requisite knowledge, skills and work experience to be globally competitive citizens employable anywhere in the world.
“Universities appreciate the high level support for closer higher education ties with Japan provided by Prime Minister Tony Abbott who formally launched Japan’s participation in the New Colombo Plan during this visit”, Ms Robinson said.
The New Colombo Plan is a critical and much needed part of the strategy to widen and deepen higher education and research ties with Japan.
“Australian universities have a long history of engagement with Japan, but we cannot stand still, we must renew and reinvigorate the relationship. Australia must lift the number of students studying in Japan and encourage greater numbers of Japanese students to study in Australia.
“Just as Australia has the New Colombo Plan to encourage Australians to study in Japan, so the Japanese Government has tripled funding for study abroad. Australian universities are well placed to attract greater numbers of Japanese students. In particular, universities are committed to removing barriers that discourage students from achieving an international study experience”, Ms Robinson said.
A higher education roundtable held during the visit was a “step up in deepening and expanding the relationship with the Japanese higher education sector”, Ms Robinson said. Universities Australia is working on improving higher education engagement by exploring models for joint degree programs with Japanese universities identifying synergies in respective research strengths and developing faculty and staff exchange programs. Australian degree programs offered to Japanese students often include English language and work placements to ensure a well-rounded study experience.