Indonesia specialist wins international education fellowship

UNSW International's Dr Kirrilee Hughes has been awarded the Tracy McCabe Future Leader Fellowship for her contribution to international education.

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L-R: Brett Blacker, VP IEAA; Jo Asquith, Chair, AUIDF; Kirrilee Hughes; Helen Zimmerman, President IEAA (Photo: Yme Tulleners/Kirkland Photography)

UNSW International’s Deputy Director for Indonesian Affairs Dr Kirrilee Hughes is celebrating a particularly personal honour after being presented with the Tracy McCabe Future Leader Fellowship recognising her contribution to international education.

The Fellowship, which is awarded by the Australian Universities International Directors’ Forum to high achievers in the international education sector, was presented to Dr Hughes at the Australian International Education Conference in Brisbane last night.

Dr Hughes is a passionate advocate for Asia literacy and engagement at UNSW International, where she piloted a successful professional development program for Indonesian school careers counsellors in 2013. A second round for Malaysian counsellors will be run in December supported by funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Dr Hughes' PhD thesis - she graduated from ANU earlier this year - focused on the struggle for Asia literacy in Australian schools and universities.

An Indonesia specialist, Dr Hughes was selected from a highly competitive field as 2014’s Tracy McCabe fellowship winner, and plans to use the $7,000 grant to undertake leadership training at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in the United States.

The late Tracy McCabe was a pioneer in Australia’s international education sector and a personal mentor for Dr Hughes, making the honour particularly special.

“Ten years, almost to the day, Tracy McCabe recruited me to work for her in the International Division of the University of Newcastle and gave me my first taste of working in Australia’s international education industry,” she said.

“She was a wonderful boss and mentor, and this award acknowledges the importance she placed on mentoring staff and colleagues and proactively providing opportunities to increase their international outlook and global engagement.

“Tracy passed away from breast cancer in 2011 and my personal connection to her makes winning this fellowship very special indeed.”

Dr Hughes said an in-depth understanding of Asia was vital for all graduates of Australian universities and described international engagement in the region as “part of UNSW’s DNA”.

“UNSW was the first Australian campus at which international students studied through the Colombo Plan in the early 1950s which means that UNSW has been a distinctly outward-looking university from its very roots and has assisted in the economic and educational development of the region,” she said.

“In 2014, UNSW continues to be a first-choice university for many international students from the Asia Pacific region and beyond.”

By Amy Coopes