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Griffith University students head to Hong Kong on New Colombo Plan scholarship

Yuzuha Oka

Fri Jul 18 2014

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TWO students from Griffith University are amongst the first to receive scholarships for study and work opportunities in Asia as part of the New Colombo Plan. Yuzuha Oka reports.

Griffith University students Elliot Jones and Elise Stephenson will gain study and work experience in Hong Kong this month after being nominated for a scholarship as part of the New Colombo Plan.

Mr Jones, an engineering student, will be studying at the University of Hong Kong.

“[University of Hong Kong] is one of the highest-ranking universities in Asia; it is globally recognised for having a strong focus on sustainability and an exceptional Engineering faculty,” he said in a statement.

“This is a great chance to challenge my own boundaries in a new place, explore the field of Environmental Engineering in an international context, and get a taste for the culture and language of a region which is so important to us,” he added.

Related story: New Colombo Plan to attract Australian students to Asia-Pacific region

Ms Stephenson, who majors in Asian Studies and Communications, believes this opportunity will be beneficial to her personal development.

“I am happy to be given the opportunity to live and study in a new city and hopefully make some life-long friends along the way,” she said.

The Federal Government announced earlier this year that 40 Australian undergraduates will receive up to $67,000 in scholarships for study and work experience in Asia.

The New Colombo Plan will provide $100 million in funding over five years, supporting Australian undergraduate students to pursue semester-based and short-term study, teaching practicums, research, clinical placements, internships and mentorships across a range of disciplines in the Indo-Pacific region.

Scholars are first nominated by Australian universities through internal selections, before undergoing an interview process in Canberra. The interview panel was comprised of representatives from the Department of Education, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as well as members of diplomatic corps and business community.

Both Mr Jones and Ms Stephenson acknowledged that the selection process helped them develop interpersonal skills.

“These skills are very valuable and will no doubt help when applying for jobs in the future,” Ms Stephenson said.

The Federal Government has been keen to nurture “Asia-literate” leaders who are able to bridge the divide in both language as well as cultural understanding. It commissioned the White Paper titled “Australia in the Asian Century” back in 2012 stating Asian literacy as a priority for Australia.

The 2014 recipients of New Colombo Plan Scholarship Program have already been selected. Currently in its pilot phase, students will receive support to study in Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Forty scholars will start heading off for their study from this month.