Canberra, 28 May 1954
Since my return from Geneva I have given some further thought to the proposal in your letter of 5th April2 for the use of Colombo Plan funds to permit residential University Colleges to increase their accommodation to provide for a number of Asian students.
The conditions under which Asian students, especially Colombo Plan students, study and live in Australia is naturally a matter of deep concern to me. I agree with you about the importance of students returning to their own countries with a genuine appreciation of their student days in Australia and a sympathetic outlook of the Australian way of life based on association with the Australian community, especially Australian youth. The accommodation of more Asian students in residential Colleges would certainly contribute to these ends.
I hope, however, that you will appreciate the problems involved in agreeing to your proposal. The capital cost of providing additional accommodation would be high in relation to the numbers of students accommodated. Moreover, I doubt whether it would be possible to provide assistance to one college without attracting requests for similar assistance from other residential colleges at the University of Melbourne and also at other Universities throughout Australia. In view of limitations on our Colombo Plan funds the ultimate cost would be very likely prove to be out of proportion to the advantages of your proposal compared with alternative accommodation arrangements.3
Your interest in the welfare of Asian students is nevertheless deeply appreciated.
[NAA: A10299, Cl5]