New Colombo Plan in action at the University of Sydney

Last week, Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, met the first tranche of University of Sydney students who will be travelling to Singapore under the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan.

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Launched last December, the New Colombo Plan is a major initiative to enhance knowledge of the Indo-Pacific region and strengthen the university’s personal and institutional ties through scholarships and internships.

Twenty undergraduate students have been selected to travel to Singapore at the end of June to research the impact of ageing and ethnic diversity on the country’s housing policy.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said approximately 300 students are studying and undertaking work placements in the pilot destinations of Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong under the first tranche of mobility program funding provided earlier this year.

“A further one thousand students will have the opportunity to study in the region following the announcement of the second tranche of mobility funding for Australian universities under the Government’s New Colombo Plan,” Ms Bishop said.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence said the program was a wonderful example of the university’s engagement in Asia.

“It’s great to see students studying architecture, business, political economy and geography all coming together to work on finding real-world solutions to our region’s biggest challenges,” Dr Spence said.

The University of Sydney students will draw upon their various areas of expertise to work with local authorities, National University of Singapore academics and students, and NGOs.

One of the students who will be travelling to Singapore is Brittany Betteridge, who is studying a Bachelor of Advanced Science.

“This program will allow me to develop important cross-cultural connections while learning about urbanisation and housing density in Singapore,” Brittany said. “The opportunity to be part of a cross-disciplinary team also means I will develop communication and collaboration skills, and networks with students from diverse academic backgrounds.

“When I return, I intend to promote the importance of Australian cross-cultural and research collaboration with our Southeast Asian neighbours, and promote long-spanning ties with this region.”

The University of Sydney students’ participation in the Singapore field school project is facilitated by the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, which brings together the university’s 220 academics working on and in Southeast Asia—one of the highest concentrations of regional expertise in the world.

The first recipients of the New Colombo Plan scholarships will be followed later this year by a second tranche, taking the total to more than 700 students in this first pilot year. Forty prestigious, longer-term scholarships will also be announced in June.

The Australian Government will expand the New Colombo Plan to other destinations across the Indo-Pacific region from 2015.


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