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THE striking feature of the relationship between Australia and Malaysia is its on-the-ground depth. It is a multi-faceted relationship built over many decades.
We have strong links in education. From the days of the Colombo Plan over 180,000 Malaysian students have graduated from Australian educational institutions. These graduates can now be found in all walks of Malaysian life. These education links give Australia its strongest people-to-people links in South-East Asia.
There are currently alomost 18,000 Malaysian students studying in Australian institutions, and over 85 per cent of these studnets are in higher education. Malaysian students account for almost one in 10 overseas students in higher education in Australia.
But it is not just a case of Malaysian students travelling to Australia.
Australian institutions are extensive providers of in-country education.
Monash University was the first institution to receive approval to establish a branch campus in Malaysia. (the Monash University Sunway Campus). And Curtin University has established a branch campus in Miri, Sarawak.
In addition, 11 Australian universities are running a range of 3+0 (or full in-country degree) programmes, while most other Australian universities have twinning programmes and other articulation arrangements.
It is estimated that there are over 6,000 students in these programmes.
Australia also enjoys a close defence relationship with Malaysia. At the multilateral level there is the Five Power Defence Arrangement, which joins Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, the UK and New Zealand and is a …