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Introduction: The political context in Australia has been marked by a significant investment into the development of Asia-relevant capabilities through schooling and higher education to increase the county's economic competiveness as well as cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. In part, this aim has been realised through initiatives that foster intercultural understanding, communication and experiences of students through their inbound and outbound mobility. Since the inception of the Colombo Plan for Aid to South and Southeast Asia in 1951, the Australian system of higher education has seen a steady flow of international students from the region, contributing to 'constructive engagement with Asia' and 'promoting mutual understanding with Asian peoples' (Lowe, 2010, p. 16). One can argue that the Colombo Plan was particularly instrumental in mediating some important shifts in cultural politics and languages education in Australia in the 1950s and the 1960s. As a result, the need for teaching Asian studies and languages emerged in the early 1970s as one of the central issues in educational policy-making.

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