Australia's international education as public diplomacy: Soft power potential

Date of this Version


Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Published Version.

Byrne, C. & Hall, R. (2011). Australia's international education as public diplomacy: Soft power potential. Clingendael discussion papers in diplomacy, 121, 27pp.

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© Copyright Caitlin Byrne & Rebecca Hall, No 121 July, 2011


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.