Insight – Australia Awards Scholarships help grow the visitor economy

30 June 2022

The prestigious Australia Awards Scholarships give international students an opportunity to live, work and study in Australia. Their experiences have long-term economic and cultural benefits for Australia’s visitor economy.

About the Australia Awards Scholarships

Australia Awards Scholarships provide opportunities for citizens of partner countries, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region, to study in Australia. They can undertake full-time undergraduate or postgraduate study at Australian universities and Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) administers the Australia Awards Scholarships. The awards are a key feature of almost all of Australia’s bilateral aid programs and have been since the Colombo Plan of the 1950s.

The benefits of living, studying and working in Australia

Australia Awards Scholarships alumnus Lakshay Jain studied a Master of Economics at The University of Sydney. The opportunity to study, work and live in Sydney has been life-changing.

‘Living and studying in Australia was never a part of my life plan,’ says Jain. ‘The Australia Awards Scholarships made it possible for me. This has been the best experience in my life to date.

‘Living and studying in Sydney taught me how a city is more than just its skyscrapers or wealth. Everything from the visitor economy, people from different cultures, refugees and migrants are welcomed by this beautiful city. They are contributing so much to its growth and popularity among other countries.

‘After relocating back to India, I haven’t forgotten the Australian way of living. I am very active in advising people to visit Australia for a vacation and students to pursue their higher education in Australia. I guide high school graduates to explore the option of studying in Australia. I am also helping people who have moved to Sydney to find employment by getting in touch with my previous employers.’

The global benefits of the Australia Awards Scholarships

Jain’s story is echoed in the Australia Awards Scholarships cohorts who have lived in Australia and are networked internationally.

The broader benefits of the Australia Awards Scholarships are wide-ranging. The Scholarships:

  • showcase Australia’s world-class tertiary education sector
  • encourage dependents to travel and live with awardees in Australia
  • make significant contributions to the visitor economy, through recipients’ living expenses, domestic trips and visits from family and friends from overseas
  • bring cultural value to Australia through a 100,000-strong alumni network.

The Australia Awards Scholarships continued through the COVID-19 pandemic by pivoting online. Around 900 scholars were engaged at its 2021 Virtual Conference. Many studied remotely for the best part of the year. Meanwhile, the Women Leadership Initiative used online platforms to support COVID-19 response and recovery from early 2020 to 2021.

Post-pandemic scholarships

As international borders reopen and restrictions relax, DFAT has offered 2,075 scholarships to 27 partner countries. These support the careers of emerging leaders and their country development objectives across the region.

Just over 300 recipients have mobilised in the first semester of 2022. Recipients from Indonesia accounted for 32.7% of scholarships awarded in the first semester. They were followed by Papua New Guinea (8.9%), Cambodia (8.6%), Bangladesh (7.9%) and Bhutan (6.3%).  

The lifelong value of the Australia Awards Scholarships to Australia’s visitor economy continues to grow. They are an investment in new generations of global leaders with strong links to Australia, building on the 70-year legacy of the original Colombo Plan.

Visit the DFAT website for more information on the Australia Awards Scholarships.