Australian alumni driving change in Africa: the value add of Australian universities


The Australia Global Alumni Engagement Strategy provides a platform for deep engagement with Australia Awards recipients to contribute to a connected, engaged and influential global alumni who promote Australia and our national interests. While on-award, awardees are encouraged to maximise opportunities that build their professional and personal networks. The Australia Awards program actively support on-award activities and there is an increasing need for Australian institutions to recognise their role in fostering Australian social and cultural experiences and providing professional development opportunities that complement the academic experiences. 

An alumni’s ability to contribute to their national economic development as well as further Australia’s national interests is dependent on the quality of their on-award experience: academic, cultural, social and professional. This e-poster presentation will emphasise the soft skills acquired while on-award and how alumni use these skills to drive economic development, contribute to sustainable development goals and strengthen this on-going linkages between Australia and Africa.

Take-home message:

Australia Awards key objectives are three-fold:

* Alumni use skills, knowledge and networks to contribute to development.

* Australia is viewed an active development partner.

* Alumni have positive ongoing links with Australia.

Institutions have a critical role in providing educational experiences that align to these objectives. Alumni do sustain networks, but these tend to be with other international students and academics. They report fewer links with Australians and Australian organisations, reducing their ability to have an impact on economic diplomacy goals. Alumni report that activities such as leadership training, volunteering, student associations, internships, placements and mentoring offer the opportunity to build their soft skills and professional networks to complement their technical skills. Alumni are making contributions to sustainable development goals and contributing to Australia’s national interests. This e-poster presentation will emphasise the importance of educational providers appreciating their role in offering opportunities that empower alumni as future leaders.

Key interest area: Students (STU) 
Other key interest areas: Higher Education (HE), Sponsored students (SS), Multiple interest areas (MULTI)

Ms Fiona Pakoa

Team Leader

Australia Awards - Africa

Fiona Pakoa has been associated with international education, in various roles and institutions, since 1997. She joined the Australia Awards – Africa program in 2011 and has been Team Leader since April 2014. Prior to this, she worked at the University of Queensland as Manager, International Relations. She was also an AusAID Liaison Officer at UQ for eight years. Fiona has experience in the public sector, having been attached to the Queensland Education and Training International taskforce. Before immigrating to Australia, Fiona was an agricultural economist in Kenya and Vanuatu with the British Department of International Development. As part of her Master of International Education at Monash University, she completed a thesis on the role of cultural identity in academic performance of Melanesian postgraduate students in Australia.