155 Cabinet Submission by Chifley and Pollard

Agendum 1414 CANBERRA, 12 January 1948


Proposal by British Council and United Kingdom High Commissioner 1. On 29th January, 1947, the United Kingdom High Commissioner approached the Australian Government with the request that Australia should consider what could be done to help revive British influence in Siam and in particular to provide facilities with or without financial assistance for the training of Siamese in Australia.

2. The matter arose out of a tour of the Far East by representatives of the British Council, who found that in Siam the teaching of English and the knowledge of the British way of life which before the war occupied an important place in Siamese education, had practically collapsed. It was found, however, that the Siamese were eager to revive it but felt unable to do so without outside assistance. The United Kingdom Foreign Secretary felt that this assistance should be forthcoming quickly since it would help to secure the friendship of Siam, ensure the spread of British ideas and influence in that country, and prevent other foreign influences from supplanting British influence there.

3. The Foreign Office therefore asked Australia (and also New Zealand) whether, in view of the interest we were taking in Siam, we would be prepared to assist in training Siamese students in Australia.

Views of Commonwealth Departments 4. The matter was submitted to the Departments of Immigration, Post-War Reconstruction and External Affairs whose views were as follows:

(a) Immigration: If it was decided to make facilities available for the education of a limited number of selected Siamese students, approval would be given for the temporary admission into Australia of such students to enable them to complete their courses, on advice being furnished that satisfactory arrangements had been made for their maintenance whilst here.

(b) Post- War Reconstruction: It was considered that the provision of opportunities for students from Far Eastern countries would be a desirable goodwill gesture and give practical encouragement to the growth of good international relations and understanding.

Australian Universities would probably enrol students for courses in Public Administration, Arts, Law, Economics or Commerce, Medicine, Science, Agricultural and Veterinary Science, Education and Engineering. The possibility of Asiatic students desiring courses at Technical, Agricultural or Teachers' Colleges was also mentioned. Numbers of such students would, it is thought, be very small.

Apart from the question of providing educational facilities in Australia for Asiatic students who do not require financial assistance, the Minister for Post-War Reconstruction suggested that the Commonwealth might consider it appropriate to offer the Siamese Authorities annually a scholarship tenable for from two to four years. Arrangements for the supervision of the studies and welfare of the scholars while in Australia could be made by the Commonwealth Office of Education in co-operation with consular or diplomatic representatives. Details of the costs of such a scheme are shown in the attached annex. An estimate of the cost of one scholarship for four years covering all expenses was given as 1,370.

(c) External Affairs: The provision of educational facilities in Australia for Asiatic students generally was strongly recommended, and steps had been taken to provide information on such facilities, and on immigration procedure, for all Australian representatives in the Pacific. It was felt, however, that the proposal for Commonwealth scholarships should not apply only to Siam, but provision should be made for the offer of similar scholarships initially to India, the Republics of Indonesia and the Philippines, and perhaps later, to certain other Asiatic countries.

Developments in connection with U.N.E.S. C. O. [1]

5. The requirement of the Department of External Affairs regarding assistance to other Asiatic countries besides Siam is partly in process of being met by a proposal at present under consideration that part of Australia's contribution to U.N.E.S.C.O.

reconstruction and relief activities should be in the form of fellowships and scholarships [2] for professional training at various institutions such as Universities, Technical Colleges, Teachers' Colleges. Such a scheme would apply to India, Pakistan, Burma, Malaya, China, Philippines and Indonesia.

6. In the course of time, however, these rehabilitation activities will cease, and it is considered that as this occurs, their place should be taken by a purely Australian scheme for assisting Asiatic students in all educational fields. It is considered that a first step in this direction might be the provision of three scholarships for students from South East Asian countries, to commence in 1948. Siam which is excluded from the U.N.E.S.C.O.

scheme because it is not regarded as a war devastated country, would be considered along with other South East Asian countries, for one of these three scholarships. In succeeding years, consideration might be given to developing this form of Australian assistance and perhaps extending it to all the countries referred to above which are already partly catered for at the moment by the U.N.E.S.C.O. reconstruction programme.

Submission 7. It is, therefore, recommended that provisions be made for three Australian scholarships annually for South East Asian pupils to commence study in Australia in 1948, the total annual expenditure not to exceed 5,000. [3]

1 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

2 See Volume 12, Document 76.

3 Cabinet approved the recommendation on the same day. On 5 September 1949 Cabinet varied the allotment to provide for two scholarships of four years each, one of three years and one of two years (to allow for a Malaysian none) provided the cost remained the same.

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