Professor Somphone Kounnavongsa (GradDipTEFL ’91)
Deputy Director of the Graduate Office, National University of Laos
Somphone Kounnavongsa is the Deputy Director of the Graduate Office at the National University of Laos, the leading university in the capital city of Vientiane, which sits on the Mekong River near the border with Thailand.
In his role, Kounnavongsa is responsible for the academic affairs of a number of graduate programs in the University’s 11 faculties, which include Agriculture, Architecture, Economics & Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Forestry, Law and Political Sciences, Letters, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and the Laos-Japan Human Resource Development Institute. The University, which is the only national university in the country, currently has 39 Master’s programs in various disciplines and three doctoral programs.
In 1991, Kounnavongsa completed a Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) at the University of Sydney, an experience which he says has contributed greatly to his current career. “I gained a lot of international knowledge and experience to make the best use in my work (teaching, research and my further education),” he says. “The University offered me the insight and talent to handle the assigned tasks in my organisation, and to be able to train our students and develop the graduate programs. I am therefore able to gradually develop my profession and position.”
According to Kounnavongsa, he chose to study at the University of Sydney “because of its excellence in the academic affairs (teaching, research and academic services)”. He adds that it also has “an international prestige in terms of location, learning environment, facilities, international staff and faculties, social and academic contribution, as well as financial assistance to the local and international students”.
Kounnavongsa says the greatest challenges facing Australia in its engagement with the Asia-Pacific region relates to the availability of resources and competition with other regions around the world. “I think that the competition in providing assistance by donors from various regions, the limited number of capable human resources, and the regional economic stability are the greatest challenges facing Australia in its engagement with the Asia-Pacific region,” he says.