University of Newcastle secures project funding
Winnie Eley reflects on her own experience as a young student abroad when announcing that another 14 University of Newcastle (UON) projects will be funded by the New Colombo Plan (NCP) to send students to study overseas to further their education in law, creative arts, speech pathology, nursing and oral health.
“I call it a ‘come alive moment’—it’s like learning a second language. I remember when I went to the UK for my university education. After all those years of learning and studying, suddenly it all came alive for me.”
Now the PVC International and Advancement at UON, Winnie Eley’s leadership at the university is deeply concerned with international engagement for both students on our campus, and those who seek the opportunity to study abroad.
“There are so many wonderful aspects to this program and in many ways some of them are a bit intangible, but travel allows us to see people and experiences from new perspectives. It encourages us to become better people. I truly believe that the more we understand other people, the better we become at everything we do.”
The NCP provides funding opportunities to increase outbound student mobility in the Indo-Pacific region, with the Australian Government having committed over $100 million to fund the program from 2014 to 2018.
UON has been successful in securing $586,300 for 14 projects under the 2016 NCP Scholarships and Student Mobility Grant Projects. This will see students heading to Cambodia, the Cook Islands, Japan, Vietnam, Hong Kong and mainland China, Fiji, Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea.
“It’s about friendship, education and cultural exchange in a time when cold economics is so frequently a primary focus,” Mrs. Eley said.
“UON has done really well with NCP funding over the last couple of years, and all of our faculties have worked hard to create great submissions.
“It’s a really important source of scholarships to assist students to study overseas, and we really want to grow the number of students that we’re able to offer this to.”
Winnie Eley points out that a fundamental role of the university is in promoting equity of access to education, “This has particular resonance for our students as so many of them are ‘first in family’ – the first child within a family to pursue tertiary education. The NCP often means they are not just the first to attend a university; they are often the first to visit another country.”
Dr Miranda Lawry, University of Newcastle Senior Lecturer in Fine Arts, has been awarded NCP funding to send students to Beijing to study in an arts and fashion institute.
“They’ll build their skills in understanding creativity from a world view and become real global citizens who’ll learn about entrepreneurship and how they can extend their capacity to communicate and operate as a creative person.
“We’re also sending students to Hong Kong and South Korea to undertake internships where they’ll work in galleries as curators or in community cultural engagement capacities.
“It’s wonderful to see students who’ve left here with no real idea of what to expect then come back with a new maturity from their experience, the joy they get from learning new things and building new friendships—you couldn’t wish for a more wonderful opportunity.”
2014 was the pilot year of the New Colombo Plan, a program that falls under the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, rather than education.
“It’s about citizenship and diplomacy. This sort of experience simply helps make better people. The obvious benefits are to the students who can immerse themselves in another culture and to understand others. You would like to think that other countries benefit from having our students sharing their lives and experiences with them, too.
“But the long-lasting effects of this exchange are in the creation of greater awareness and wise global citizens. These students will make connections both personally and professionally that they will carry with them for a lifetime. I think this program is good for everyone it touches, especially when these students come back home to us in Newcastle.
“By the end of 2016 we’ll have sent 445 students to 15 countries. I think this is a significant role for universities even though it can be difficult to articulate this benefit. We can measure precisely the dollar-value of coal production, for example, but what value do we place on helping grow better people?
“We need to engage in how rapidly and deeply our world is changing by embracing it and helping send our students out into this world.”