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Michael is a Director and Head of Educational Services at corporate and strategic advisory firm ASEAN Focus Group (AFG VG) . He was on the Board of the Australia-Indonesia Business Council (AIBC) between 2015-2019. 

In 1987, Michael was a co-founder of Insearch Language Centre UTS, Australia’s first public-private partnership in international education. In 1994 he founded the Australia Centre of Medan, North Sumatra which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2019. It is a regional education and English language centre which previously provided English language support for the UTS Indonesia Nursing pathway program.

Michael is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Technology Sydney. He works across all education sectors with a regional focus on ASEAN, Indonesia, India and Malaysia. Clients have included StudyNSW on transnational delivery of VET; the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) on their ASEAN Strategy and TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) on Skills Training in Indonesia under the Indonesia-Australia Vocational Education Leadership Training program (IA-VELT).

From 2013-2016, AFG assisted TAFE NSW Sydney Institute in establishing a training partnership with Indonesian manufacturing company Multistrada and building Indonesian Polytechnic linkages. AFG is currently advising Ramsay Healthcare on their Malaysia strategy and the Northern Territory Government on NT VET sector engagement with Indonesia.

In 2018, on behalf of Southern Cross University (SCU) which hosts the National Marine Sciences Centre, Michael initiated the Australia Award Fellowship Program with Maluku and North Maluku Provinces Indonesia for a group of 15 Indonesian Marine Science and Fisheries Leaders. This has led to a PhD pathway from Eastern Indonesia to SCU for Indonesian postgraduate students.

In 2018, with seed funding support from the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)'s Australia-ASEAN Council (AAC), Michael co-convened the inaugural ASEAN-Australia Education Dialogue (AAED) in Penang, Malaysia (March 21-23) which was attended by 135 delegates from every state and territory in Australia and 9 of the 10 ASEAN nations

The second ASEAN-Australia Education Dialogue (AAED) was held in the UNESCO World Heritage Georgetown, Penang from November 18-20, 2019. Sustainability and Quality Assurance in International Education Partnerships were key focus areas. AAED virtual webinars have continued throughout 2020.


AAED was a finalist in this year’s prestigious PIEoneer of the Year Awards 2020.


Thomson Ch'ng is the co-convenor of the ASEAN-Australia Education Dialogue (AAED) and an International Specialist Advisor at ASEAN Focus Group (AFG VG). Thomson is based in Penang and Australia and advises a range of education and training institutions, governments, associations and media groups in relation to Australian and ASEAN education activities.

In 2017, Thomson was a special advisor to the Malaysian Consulate and Education Malaysia Australia (EMA) in Sydney on Malaysia’s education engagement with Australia. He also served as the Vice-President to the Jakarta-based ASEAN Youth Organization (AYO). Among the key projects were the first official visit by the then Malaysian Higher Education Minister’s to government departments, education peak bodies and institutions in Sydney and Melbourne, the inaugural Malaysia-Australia Tertiary Education Conference (MATEC) in Sydney and a Study Tour for TAFE Sydney Institute’s staff and students to Politeknik and Community Colleges in Kuala Lumpur.

In 2018-19, Thomson served as a Special Advisor to a Member of the Penang State Legislative Assembly while actively involved in the training operation of a family business. Thomson advises a number of Penang based private colleges on international business and engagement strategy.


A Master of Science (Project Management) alumnus of Navitas - Curtin University Australia, Thomson has actively contributed to the enhancement of the student experience in Australia. He was a founding delegate and the 4th National President of the Council of International Students Australia (CISA) between 2010-2015, a member of the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP)’s Education Visa Consultative Committee (EVCC) (2013, 2014) and sits on several international education taskforce and stakeholder committee, including the StudyNSW International Education Advisory Board (IEAB) (2014, 2015).

During his tenure as CISA President, Thomson was instrumental in the consultation process of the National Strategy for International Education 2025 by offering students' perspectives to ensure Australia continues to offer world-class experience for international students.

In December 2019 Thomson was presented with the award of Outstanding Young Australian Alumni by the Australian Deputy High Commissioner to Malaysia. In October 2020, Thomson won the prestigious global PIEoneer Awards - International Alumni of the Year 2020.

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