Australia’s education minister has expressed his support for academic exchanges, telling Fulbright scholars and alumni that “the chance to study overseas is a rare one”.
Speaking at the Australian-American Fulbright gala dinner in Canberra on July 5, Jason Clare advised Australian recipients of the scholarship to “soak up every bit of the journey ahead”, adding that he ‘envied’ them.
In total, 102 Australian and American students, researchers, and professionals were named earlier this year as recipients of the 2022 scholarship, which will facilitate exchanges between the two countries.
In a passionate speech, Clare said that if he could “live my life again, I would want to do what you are doing”.
It comes weeks after the newly-appointed education minister discussed the slow return of international students to Australia following the country’s border reopening earlier this year.
“This is our biggest export that we don’t dig out of the ground”
“This is our biggest export that we don’t dig out of the ground and it’s been smashed by covid,” Clare told Sky News Australia on June 26.
We have some of the best universities in the world
International education is our biggest export that we don’t dig out of the ground.
It has been smashed by Covid. We need to rebuild it.
— Jason Clare MP (@JasonClareMP) June 26, 2022
The minister touched specifically on the reduction in the numbers of Chinese students travelling to Australia, blaming China’s strict “zero covid” policies.
Asked if he believes whether the Chinese government will deter students from going to Australia, Clare said he did not think this was the case.
“I don’t get that indication and that’s partly because you’re seeing the same thing happening in the US, as well as in the UK,” he said.
The minister also spoke to the role that international students can play in addressing the country’s skill shortages, pointing out that 16% of overseas students remain and work in Australia after finishing their degree.
“I would think that there’s a lot of good work we could also do in trying to match the type of courses that international students do here with skill shortages,” Clare said.
“At the moment, a lot of them are studying in business and commerce. We’ve got big gaps in our economy in the healthcare sector. If we can match that better, the benefits for Australia will be more.”
Clare was appointed to the role of education minister following Australia’s May general election which saw the Labor Party’s Anthony Albanese replace Scott Morrison as prime minister.