Professor Ly Tran

Australian Research Council Future Fellow

Professor Ly Tran has made a mission of strengthening Australia’s educational ties with the rest of the Indo-Pacific region.

A guiding hand for international students

Maintaining and strengthening the exchange and mutual learning of knowledge, skills, culture and diplomacy between Australia and the rest of the Indo-Pacific region underpins the work of Professor Ly Tran.

An Australian Research Council Future Fellow within Deakin University’s Research for Educational Impact (REDI) Strategic Research Centre, Prof. Tran has devoted her career to higher education, graduate employability, diversity and the teaching and learning of international students, with a focus on building connections between Australia and Vietnam through education.

'International education enriches Australia’s universities, culture, society and the economy. International students create long-lasting ties which enhance Australia’s multilateral relationships and international position,' she says.

'I have enjoyed and treasured the enriching interactions with, and the enormous opportunity to learn from, a diversity of research students, colleagues and international collaborators in my job.'

A purpose shaped by struggle

Born in the year the Vietnam War ended and her native country was reunified, Prof. Tran’s view of the world was shaped by growing up in Quang Tri, a small town near the 17th Parallel, which divided the nation during the conflict.

'Being educated in a post-war context where there was a constant struggle to navigate the tensions between colonial legacies and decolonisation as a result of the country’s long history of resistances to foreign incursions, Vietnamese values and trans-national flows of ideas, I became curious about the encounter of differences and the interaction of different values,' she says.

'This sparked my interest in international education research, which involves intercultural learning, cross-border mobilities, identity transformation, trans-national knowledge connection and multilateral relationship building.'

Prof. Tran received a Bachelor of Arts from Vietnam’s Hue University, a Master of Education from Monash University and a Doctor of Philosophy from University of Melbourne before becoming a lecturer at RMIT University (2008 to 2013). She has been a senior lecturer, Associate Professor and Professor for the Faculty of Arts and Education at Deakin University for the past eight years and is also an Australian Research Council Future Fellow.

Highly respected and widely published

In 2019, Forbes Vietnam named Prof. Tran one of Vietnam’s 50 most influential women for her leading research into Vietnamese higher education reform and international student mobility. She has the highest number of publications in international journals of any Vietnamese woman researching the social sciences, and was the lead author on the first English-language book on Vietnamese higher education and the first edited book to address issues in internationalisation in Vietnamese higher education.

Her research has been featured in major media outlets such as the ABC, SBS, The Australian, and the Australian Financial Review. 'Our research into international students helped disrupt stereotypes about international students and enrich public understandings about issues facing international students and their contributions to the broader community,' she says.

One article she co-authored, focusing on international student graduates during the COVID-19 pandemic, was the most-read article in the Education section of The Conversation in 2020, reaching more than 210,000 readers.

Prof. Tran’s recent research has included a focus on the New Colombo Plan, a program devised to promote student mobility and public diplomacy. 'I’m responsible for leading an ARC project investigating the impact of Australian student learning and engagement in the Indo-Pacific through the Plan,' she says.

A helping hand to build employment links

Prof. Tran also leads research to investigate the impacts of the post-study work rights policy in Australia. 'As of June 2019, there were 91,776 international graduates on the temporary graduate visa in Australia, which accounts for around 0.7% of Australia’s 13.5 million labour force,' she says.

'A lot of employers prefer those who are holding permanent residency or citizenship, so they automatically discriminate against those on a temporary visa. Only 36% of international graduates who are current and past holders of the temporary graduate visa are in full-time employment in their field of study, so clearly a considerable proportion of them are still struggling to find employment.

'We’re working towards fulfilling the ethical commitment of Australian universities, as well as ensuring the sustainable growth of international students and the long-term enrolment targets for Australian universities.'