Bernard Lane
From: The Australian
March 18, 2013 12:00AM

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A NET increase in study travel this year seems unlikely because universities have been given little time to prepare for the new AsiaBound scholarship scheme, according to outward mobility expert Rob Malicki.

Guidelines for the $37 million AsiaBound scheme are yet to be finalised although the government expects universities to apply early next month with a mid-May closing date.

“I feel that many universities are going to struggle with this timeline,” said Mr Malicki, author of a government-funded report on best practice in outward mobility.

He said well organised and resourced universities should be able to “plug in” study travel programs already under development.

“The government should manage to give away the money, but I don’t think we’re going to see an immediate big jump in numbers – this most likely won’t happen until well into 2014,” he said.

A spokesman for the tertiary education department said: “(AsiaBound) guidelines are now being finalised through the government approval processes and they will be made publicly available once that process is complete.

“We expect that the program will be open in early April in time for institutions to submit project proposals in May, and for project proposals to be considered by the department so that funding offers can be made to institutions in June, ahead of the next financial year when AsiaBound funding commences.”

After criticism of surprise cuts to existing mobility programs last year the then tertiary education minister Chris Evans promised the AsiaBound program “will have students travelling from the second half of next year (2013)”.

A novel feature of the scheme is that $3m is set aside for a national campaign to sell the benefits of study travel to students and parents. Culture and attitudes, not just financial incentives, have been shown to influence the will to study abroad.

Universities Australia is now negotiating with the government a contract for the $3m campaign, which is intended to start on July 1, make heavy use of digital media and run for three years, the HES understands.