Over the past decade, Australian students have increasingly shunned learning Asian languages, in a trend that has worried educators and lawmakers alike.
“Since [a] call for Asian literacy in 1989 there has been a relative decline in the numbers of Australians studying Asian languages,” wrote Michael Wesley in his 2011 book, There Goes the Neighbourhood: Australia and the Rise of Asia.
“While Japanese is still the most widely studied foreign language and demand has surged for Mandarin Chinese, the number of people studying other Asian languages is either stagnant or declining.”
This may be set to change.
Students studying in Oz now have greater opportunities to be better equipped for the Asian century under a new agreement between the Australian National University (ANU) and Open Universities Australia (OUA).
ANU courses in Hindi, Sanskrit, Tetum, Thai, Tibetan and Vietnamese will be available online via OUA starting from semester one 2018. Students can select one of six undergraduate subjects across the six languages, and progress to the next level in semester two.
“This new agreement will open the door to the world-leading language teaching ANU is renowned for,” said Dean of the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, Professor Michael Wesley.
ANU has long been recognised as the country’s premier Asian studies institutions and placed in the top 50 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018.
“These six languages are not commonly taught at a university level in this country, so making these courses available to more students through OUA is a positive step which will help Australia better understand the unique history, language and culture of our geographic neighbourhood,” added Professor Wesley.