ANU commits $11.6m funding to teach Asian and Pacific languages

The Australian National University (ANU) will become the only university in Australia to teach Mongolian and Burmese with the announcement of $11.6 million in funding to expand its less commonly taught Asian and Pacific languages program.

The program currently teaches 15 languages with six of those available online through a partnership agreement with Open Universities Australia.

Dean of the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, Professor Michael Wesley, said language is a key component of growing Australia’s international ties.

“It is important for Australia to have broad competence in all of the languages of its region, as the Asia Pacific comes to play a decisive role in shaping our future world,” Professor Wesley said.

“Language is the gateway to understanding other societies; without linguistic competence Australia will remain tethered to a fast-vanishing western-dominated world order.”

Professor Simon Haberle, Director of the ANU School of History, Culture and Language, welcomed news of the funding.

“This funding will allow us to expand the program over the next five years,” Professor Haberle said.

“The collaboration with Open Universities Australia has really been pivotal in opening up these languages to people right across Australia.”

International security student Luke Courtois will graduate this week with a Major in Thai language.

Courtois’ said his interest in studying Thai was piqued after spending time in Thailand through his parents’ work.

“I knew being in Thailand that not many foreigners knew the language,” he said.

“As someone who is interested in working in foreign affairs, I thought knowing a language that very few people learn would be a very good career choice.”

Courtois said the decision has already led to him attending a Thai studies conference in Thailand last year and participating in the 2016 South East Asian Frontiers Course.

Media are invited to attend a launch event which will include traditional Thai music and a dance performance from the Australian Thai Association.


WHAT: ANU Less Commonly Taught Languages Investment and OUA Partnership program launch

WHERE: ANU University House, Drawing Room

WHEN: Thursday, 12 December, 3pm

For media assistance, contact Aaron Walker on the ANU media hotline on 02 6125 7979 or 0418 307 213.

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