The New Colombo Plan 2014 pilot program was launched at Parliament House on 10 December 2013 by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Julie Bishop MP, in the presence of the Governor General, Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, who is Patron of the initiative.
The New Colombo Plan is a signature initiative of the Australian Government which aims to lift knowledge of the Indo Pacific in Australia and strengthen people-to-people and institutional relationships, through study and internships undertaken by Australian undergraduate students in the region. Internships will be integral to the New Colombo Plan, with the aim of ensuring students are work ready, have professional connections in the region and can link their study experience directly to career opportunities.
The New Colombo Plan is intended to be transformational, deepening relationships with the region, both at the individual level and through expanding university, business and other stakeholder links. Over time, the Australian Government wants to see study in the Indo Pacific region become a “rite of passage” for Australian undergraduate students, and as an endeavour that is highly valued across the Australian community.
The New Colombo Plan will encourage a genuine two way flow of students with the region, with an increasing number of Australian undergraduates heading to the region to complement the thousands of students from the region coming to Australia to study each year.
The Australian Government has announced funding of $100 million over five years for the New Colombo Plan. A close partnership between governments, universities and business will support the realisation of this important initiative.
The plan will commence in 2015, after a pilot phase in 2014 in which Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong are participating. The pilot phase will involve two main components, a scholarship program and a mobility grants scheme. In the pilot year approximately 40 scholarships will be awarded across the pilot locations for periods of study between one semester and a year. The mobility grants scheme for short term and semester study, up to a maximum of one year, will see some 700 further undergraduate students from Australian universities supported to study in the region.
An alumni model is also being developed to facilitate connections and support the prestige and legacy of the program and will commence in an initial form during the pilot year.