The New Colombo Plan will continue to expand in 2017 with 105 scholarships for Australia's best and brightest students to live, study and intern in the Indo-Pacific.
Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, announced the outcomes of the 2017 scholarship round at the New Colombo Plan Scholarship Awards Dinner at Parliament House, Canberra, in the presence of NCP Patron, the Governor-General, His Excellency the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd).
"Our New Colombo Plan scholars will study in 17 Indo-Pacific locations next year, including Pakistan and Papua New Guinea for the first time. This reflects the continued strong demand for diverse study opportunities in our region," Minister Bishop said.
The NCP scholars will join more than 7,400 New Colombo Plan mobility grant recipients in 2017, taking the total number of students supported by the NCP in its first four years to more than 17,500.
"This is a remarkable achievement that reflects the commitment of the Government, our universities and business champions to invest in our young people and demonstrate our genuine commitment to long-term engagement with our region," Minister Bishop said.
Minister Bishop also announced expansion of the NCP Business Champions initiative and new private-sector sponsorship.
"Nine new Business Champions will join the ten current Business Champions, announced in July 2015, who have been promoting the NCP and the value of regional study and fostering business engagement," Minister Bishop said.
The new Business Champions are:
- Mr Michael Anghie, Managing Partner, Strategic Growth Oceania and Western Region | Asia Pacific Strategic Growth Leader, EY Australia
- Mr Peter Coleman, CEO and Managing Director, Woodside Energy Ltd
- Ms Gabrielle Costigan, CEO Asia, Linfox Logistics
- Ms Christine Holgate, CEO, Blackmores
- Ms Angela Mentis, Chief Customer Officer - Business and Private, NAB
- Mr Boyd Merrett, General Manager, Leighton Contractors Asia
- Mr Mukund Narayanamurti, CEO, Asialink Business
- Mr David Olsson, China Practice Consultant, King & Wood Mallesons
- Mr Andrew Penn, CEO, Telstra
"I also announce that PwC and CPA Australia will sponsor four NCP scholarships for Australians in 2017, providing valuable support to the program including leadership training, mentoring and professional development," Minister Bishop said.
NCP Alumna Sonia Parulekar, from the University of New South Wales, acted as Master of Ceremonies at the Scholarship Awards Dinner and spoke with poise and confidence in front of around 300 government, diplomatic corps, business and university guests about her experiences studying commerce and information systems at the University of Malaya and working with PwC in Singapore.
"The experiences and challenges of my NCP scholarship have broadened my outlook and made me more resilient and adaptable," Ms Parulekar said. "I have been able to interact and network with leaders across the region – including by participating in the ASEAN Young Leaders Summit – and their mentorship and insights will guide me in my career."
The 2017 scholars were represented by NCP China Fellow Liam Kearney from the University of Western Australia, who will study economics and Mandarin at the Shanghai Jiaotong Antai School of Management and undertake an internship in the financial services sector.
"Young Australians have unparalleled opportunity to succeed in Asia, especially with the support of the New Colombo Plan," Mr Kearney said. "We are uniquely positioned to take advantage of the innovation, business development and opening up of this dynamic region; and equally to develop a more considered understanding of the issues it faces and contribute to intelligent solutions."