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Research Developments from ACER

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Higher Education
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Australia Awards scholars, February 2015. Photo ©DFAT

Tracing the steps of high achievers

ACER is gathering information about the lives and experiences of international recipients of Australian Government scholarships to evaluate public diplomacy outcomes and contribution to development around the world.

For more than 60 years, the Australian Government has been awarding the next generation of global leaders an opportunity to undertake study, research and professional development in Australia. Beginning as the Colombo Plan and known today as the Australia Awards, these prestigious scholarships and fellowships have been offered to more than 80 000 high achievers from the Australasian region and beyond.

The role that these recipients play in the advancement of their chosen fields and professions, and the development of their countries when they return following study, has been recorded in various studies over the past few decades. However, a complete picture, tracing alumni back to the beginning of the scholarship programs in a consistent and comparable way across countries and regions, has not yet been developed.

The Commonwealth Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has therefore engaged the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) to establish the Australia Awards Global Tracer Facility to monitor and evaluate the contribution of Australia Awards to alumni and their home countries and institutions, as well as to Australia.

The Australia Awards Global Tracer Facility will engage with alumni to collect information about the way in which they have used the skills and knowledge gained during their scholarship to progress development in their countries and strengthen networks with Australia. Particular areas of interest will include understanding pathways following graduation, the contributions alumni have made to sustainable development in their home countries, and the public diplomacy benefits Australia has yielded from a global network of enriched award recipients.

Over the next four years, ACER will conduct an annual survey of at least 1000 alumni from a particular group spanning a range of graduation years and from approximately 20 different countries. The Year 1 survey will commence in November 2016 and will canvass alumni who received their award between 2006 and 2010.

ACER will also conduct between four or five case studies each year to provide in-depth information to enrich understanding of alumni experiences that can inform both Australia Awards management, programming, policy and strategic direction. Year 1 case studies will focus on alumni at least 20 years since graduation and will begin in late October 2016 in Fiji.

In addition to the surveys and case studies, ACER through the Australia Awards Global Tracer Facility   aims to engage with alumni, sharing ideas and information about research and other activities, and encouraging involvement in the Facility’s research. The Facility team will also develop a research repository that collates published and grey literature on Australia Awards and other scholarships programs in a searchable database accessible to researchers, alumni, government and other stakeholders.

The information collected by the Australia Awards Global Tracer Facility is designed to help evaluate the success, and inform the future iterations, of the Australia Awards program. Reports from Year 1 are due for completion by mid-2017. ■

Further information:
Find out more about the Australia Awards Global Tracer Facility.

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