Advancing Australia’s bilateral education partnerships: Japan and the Republic of Korea

The end of August proved a busy time for receiving foreign delegations as the department played host to two successful high-level meetings in Canberra: a meeting with the Japanese Parliamentary Vice Minister of Education on the 30 August and the 5th Joint Committee on Education and TVET technical meetings with the Republic of Korea from 27-28 August.

Both Japan and Korea are long-standing bilateral education partners and important allies for Australia in multilateral fora. The department continues to share best practice models and support future cooperation and partnerships with both countries in education, science and research.

Sharing Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) knowledge and expertise with the Japanese Parliamentary Vice Minister of Education

Discussions on higher education loan reforms were a focal point at the meeting between the Japanese Vice Minister for Education Ms Noriko Miyagawa and Deputy Secretary David Learmonth.

Vice Minister Miyagawa was especially interested in how the Australian HELP system achieved the popular support it receives today. Currently Japan faces a number of challenges in its higher education system in the future and is considering a number of policy reforms in an effort to assist lower income families access higher education and narrow the higher education ‘wealth gap’ through reforms such as J-HECS, modelled on the Australian system.

In addition to higher education reform discussions, participants agreed-in principle to a proposed High Level Policy Dialogue (HLPD) in December 2018 in Tokyo. The department also agreed to renew the 2007 Memorandum of Cooperation on Education (MoC) with Japan.

Exploring new opportunities for collaboration: 5th Joint Committee on Education and TVET technical meetings with the Republic of Korea

The department welcomed two meetings with senior officials from the Republic of Korea Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development Korea. Discussions covered a broad range of topics in higher education, transnational education, vocational education and training (VET), language training and student mobility. Key outcomes included Australia and Korea agreeing to provide seed funding for an innovative research project to analyse best practice models of research collaboration, and explore opportunities for a second phase to continue a skills benchmarking project.

Overall, the week of delegation meetings proved an excellent opportunity for the department to strengthen our government-to-government engagement and encourage future collaboration in north Asia. Many thanks to all those within the department who assisted with presentations, briefings and meeting logistics. Special thanks also to our Education and Science Counsellor to Japan and the Republic of Korea - Ms Peta Arbuckle, who was also on hand to assist with the delegations and is instrumental in strengthening our engagement with both countries.

Deputy Secretary Mr David Learmonth with Ms Noriko Miyagawa, Japanese Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Education

Ms Karen Sandercock, International Group Manager and Mr Yeonghan Choi, Director General, International Cooperation Bureau, Korean Ministry of Education