Reports and papers

Australia's International Education As Public Diplomacy: Soft Power Potential

27 Jun 2011 - 12:02

Australia's international education serves as public diplomacy, essentially engaging and influencing public audiences in a way that progresses Australian foreign policy priorities and ultimately, national interests. The multidimensional and increasingly globalised nature of international education presents enormous opportunity for vital exchange and interactions between and with students, academics and communities via onshore and offshore modes of delivery. Positive experiences of exchange and the development of intellectual, commercial and social relationships can build upon a nation's reputation, and enhance the ability of that nation to participate in and influence regional or global outcomes. This is ultimately the essence of soft power. For Australia, however, this soft power potential inherent in international education is yet to be fully realised. In the case of Australia's international education, there is room for more active public diplomacy leadership, improved evaluation and expanded dialogue both within the sector and broader community. Such strategies would maximise the soft power potential of Australia's international education, and contribute to Australia's future international positioning.

Dr. Caitlin Byrne is Assistant Professor of International Relations at Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia, and Research Fellow with the Centre for Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California. Her research interests include public and traditional diplomacy and Australian foreign policy. Caitlin is a former officer of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Queensland State Government, where she was engaged across a range of legal, policy and management roles.

Rebecca Hall is an international education advisor and director of Australian based consulting firm, International Education Resources Group. Rebecca is a Teaching Fellow at Bond University and her research interests include international education policy, global education strategy and public diplomacy. She is a former board member of the International Education Association of Australia and is an elected member of Queensland State Executive for the Australian Institute of International Affairs.