Note: Frequently Asked Questions should be read in conjunction with the 2016 New Colombo Plan Scholarship Program Guidelines.
1. What are the key changes in the 2016 round?
A number of enhancements have been made to the Scholarship Program Guidelines for the 2016 round including:
- The number of scholarships to be awarded has increased to around 100.
- A maximum of around 15 scholarships will be awarded for study in any single host location.
- Selection criteria and their weightings have been amended to enable a stronger focus on students’ leadership skills and ability to contribute to New Colombo Plan goals.
2. When does the 2016 round open for applications?
Australian universities are requested to conduct an internal selection process and nominate students to apply for the program from Wednesday 1 July to Friday 31 July 2015 (nominations close 11.59pm AEST).
Nominees’ completed applications, including supporting documentation, must be submitted from Monday 3 August to Monday 31 August 2015 (applications close 11.59pm AEST).
Scholarship Program details
3. What can scholars study as part of their scholarship program?
There are no limitations on the field of study a scholar may study as part of their scholarship study program. However, scholars must undertake a full-time study program for at least one study period (as defined by the host institution), for which they will receive full credit at their Australian university towards their Bachelor’s degree or Bachelor’s honours degree. Additional detail regarding the Scholarship Study component is provided in Section 1.3 of the 2016 Scholarship Program Guidelines.
Internships and mentorships are strongly encouraged, but cannot alone constitute a scholarship study program, even if for credit or a mandatory component of the scholar’s course.
4. Can scholars study or intern across multiple host institutions and host organisations?
Scholars may study at multiple host institutions provided that all eligibility and process requirements including visa requirements are met for study at all host institutions (e.g. evidence of host institution affiliation) and that scholars receive academic credit at their Australian university for study undertaken at host institutions.
Scholars may also undertake multiple internships and mentorships with one or more host organisation/s. Internships where they are not concurrent with a study program can be taken as part of their Scholarship, as long as these do not exceed 6 months. Mentorships can only be taken concurrently with a study program.
No additional funding (to that outlined in Section 2 of the 2016 Scholarship Program Guidelines) will be provided for study or internships undertaken in more than one host institution or host organisation.
5. What are the requirements for NCP internships and mentorships?
Scholars are strongly encouraged to undertake an internship or mentorship where host location visa requirements permit this. Internships offer students the chance to test their skills in real-life work situations, gain insight into an organisation and build professional networks. Mentorships offer students the chance to engage in dialogue with a business professional or academic to support their learning and professional growth. Additional information on the Internship/Mentorship component is provided in Section 1.3 of the 2016 Scholarship Program Guidelines.
Scholars are responsible for arranging and confirming their internship or mentorship, including by finalising relevant arrangements agreed by the scholar, host organisation supervisor and Australian university, which should cover details such as: the scope of assigned responsibilities, intended learning outcomes and method of evaluating performance, and conditions (for example any specific workplace requirements, insurance cover, office hours and remuneration (if any)). Scholars are also responsible for:
- submitting a completed Internship/Mentorship Form to their case manager at least one month prior to the beginning of the internship/mentorship
- ensuring they have appropriate visas at all stages of their time in the host location.
6. Can scholars study with a College, University College, or other provider?
Yes, scholars can study in other local institutions, but they must undertake a study program for which they will receive full academic credit towards a Bachelor’s Degree, Bachelor’s Honours Degree or Concurrent Diploma at their Australian University.
7. Will scholars receive payment for tuition fees?
Where a scholar will be studying abroad as a fee paying international student the scholarship will provide payment of up to one academic year’s international tuition fees to a maximum of $15,000 ($7,500 per semester based or $5,000 per trimester-based study period). This is payable directly to the host institution and includes student services and amenities fees.
The scholarship will only provide international tuition fees where there is no current exchange agreement place available between the Australian university and the host institution.
If the scholar’s study abroad is under the auspices of an exchange program and the host institution does not charge tuition fees, the allocation for tuition fees will not be provided.
8. What level of language training is considered to be an “intensive program”, thereby qualifying as a Scholarship program element for which the monthly stipend will be paid?
Information about language training is provided in Section 1.3 of the 2016 Scholarship Program Guidelines.
In addition to a language training fee, a maximum of one month of stipend will be provided if the training is taken as an intensive program (at least 15 contact hours a week) separate to either the study or internship components. If in doubt regarding whether a language training course qualifies, scholars should consult their case manager.
9. When can scholars commence their scholarship program and how long can they stay in-country?
Successful applicants must commence their study program between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2016.
Scholars will be funded for the entire length of their scholarship program, including up to one academic year of study and other components such as internships (a maximum of six months if internship is undertaken full-time) or intensive language training (up to one month).
The maximum duration of a scholarship program is 17 months.
10. Under what circumstances will the New Colombo Plan support scholarships on a fee-paying basis (as opposed to under an exchange arrangement)?
Added 20 July 2015
The scholarship will provide payment for international tuition fees where there is no current exchange agreement place available between the Australian university and the host institution.
Where a successful scholarship applicant has indicated in their scholarship application that their study abroad program will be under the auspices of an exchange program, tuition fees will not be paid.
Where a successful scholarship applicant has indicated in their application that they intend to study abroad as a fee paying international student, the scholarship will provide payment of up to one academic year’s international tuition fees to a maximum of AUD15,000 (AUD7,500 per semester based or AUD5,000 per trimester-based study period) as outlined at Section 2 of the Guidelines. This is payable directly to the host institution and includes student services and amenities fees.
In exceptional circumstances, for example where a further study period is sought, scholars may submit a request to change their status to fee paying through the support services case manager, providing detailed justification for the proposed change. Any change to fee paying status requires written approval from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s New Colombo Plan Secretariat and is subject to funding availability.
11. What is the role of New Colombo Plan Fellows?
For each location within the Indo-Pacific, the top-ranked candidate will be acknowledged as a NCP Fellow. In addition to the benefits provided to all scholars, NCP Fellows will be awarded A$1,000 to purchase study or learning materials in preparation for or during their NCP scholarship.
Fellows are encouraged to play a strong role in promoting the NCP while in-country on their scholarship program and as part of the NCP alumni network. In this regard they may also be invited to participate in particular activities and events, either in Australia or offshore.
Application and assessment process
12. What is the application process?
Applicants for the 2016 NCP Scholarship Program must first be nominated by the home university in which they are enrolled. Universities are asked to conduct an internal nomination process to select up to ten nominees. Eligible Australian undergraduates who are interested in applying for a NCP scholarship, and feel they have strong claims against the selection criteria, should contact the NCP Liaison Officer for Scholarships or the international office in their university.
Applications for the 2016 round must be submitted through the NCP Online application system. The Department of Education and Training will contact nominated applicants by email and provide instruction on how to submit the application and the required supporting documentation (including referee reports). More information on the timelines and application process is included in Section 5 of the 2016 Scholarship Program Guidelines.
13. Who can I ask about how to submit my nominations or application using NCP Online?
For more guidance on how to use NCP Online, contact: NCP.Scholarships@education.gov.au
14. Who should I ask to act as a referee?
Applicants must provide two referee reports when submitting their application. Referee reports must be from academic supervisors or tutors, lecturers, course convenors, or workplace supervisors (including volunteer work) who should be familiar with the applicant’s recent tertiary academic and/or work performance and abilities. At least one report must be prepared by an academic referee.
It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure referee reports are submitted with their applications by the closing period. NCP Online will not allow applications to be submitted without two completed referee reports.
15. How will scholarship applications be assessed?
Scholarship applicants will be assessed and ranked against the selection criteria and other considerations as set out in Section 4 of the 2016 Scholarship Program Guidelines. Initial shortlisting of eligible applications will be undertaken by a panel comprising representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Education and Training. All shortlisted applicants will be interviewed by a panel which may comprise senior government officials, members of the business community, academics, or other appropriate individuals. Program Delegates from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Education and Training will approve final Scholarship outcomes based on the advice of the interview panels.
16. Are there any lessons from the 2014 and 2015 application processes that may assist 2016 applicants?
The criterion Demonstrated academic excellence was a strong factor in shortlisting. Academic excellence continues to be an important factor in the 2016 selection process, although criteria relating to leadership, leadership potential as well as an ability to contribute to New Colombo Plan will have a higher weighting in the 2016 process.
Common reasons applicants were not successful in previous rounds included the provision of incomplete responses or responses that were narrow in scope, or responses that did not demonstrate an understanding of the strategic objectives of the NCP program.
In some cases referee reports did not provide much information beyond what was in the applicant’s own written application. Applicants should select referees carefully, ensuring that referees have a good knowledge of the applicant’s abilities in relation to the selection criteria, and should give referees enough time to provide a considered report.
For applicants that were unsuccessful at the interview stage, there were a range of common areas where responses could have been strengthened:
- better articulation of the applicant’s motivations for and interest in applying for the NCP
- a defined and carefully considered plan for study and an internship or mentorship (note, the latter does not need to have been confirmed or finalised at the time of application or interview)
- a strong awareness of how the scholarship would be used to benefit the applicant’s academic studies, and how an internship or mentorship might help applicants to define or achieve their future goals
- a greater understanding of the broader strategic goals of the NCP and how the applicant’s studies and internship or mentorship experience would contribute to these
- greater demonstration of academic accomplishments at the university level
- stronger examples of leadership within the applicant’s community activities, and examples of leadership beyond the applicant’s university community, and
- demonstration of greater research on the applicant’s proposed host location.
Please see Section 3.1 of the 2016 Scholarship Program Guidelines for applicant eligibility requirements.
Are students eligible to apply if they:
17. Are previous recipients of an Australian Government scholarship?
Previous recipients of an NCP scholarship are not eligible for a 2016 round NCP scholarship.
Previous recipients of other Australian Government scholarships are eligible for a NCP scholarship. However, where applicants are similarly meritorious, preference may be given to a student who has not previously been the beneficiary of an Australian Government funded offshore scholarship.
In addition, successful applicants are not allowed to commence another Australian Government funded offshore scholarship or mobility grant (including a NCP mobility program grant) while holding a NCP scholarship.
18. Have already commenced study in the host location or plan to commence this study prior to 1 January 2016?
No. Successful applicants must commence their study program between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2016. Applicants who have already commenced, or will commence, a study abroad or exchange program overseas prior to 1 January 2016 are not eligible to apply for a NCP scholarship to continue that study.
19. Are part way through a degree but not currently enrolled in any units?
No. To be eligible to apply, students must be enrolled in units at an on-shore campus of an Australian university at the time of application.
20. Are studying part-time?
Students who are studying part-time in Australia are eligible to apply for a NCP scholarship, if they meet other eligibility requirements as set out in Section 3 of the 2016 Scholarship Program Guidelines. However, while overseas, NCP scholars must undertake a full-time study program.
21. Are completing a research based honours program?
Yes. Scholars studying a research based honours program overseas must be supervised by an academic from their host institution and will be required to demonstrate in their application the benefits of undertaking their research program at their chosen location.
22. Are an Australian citizen but have permanent residency in another country/location?
Applicants with dual citizenship, permanent residency or similar in another country are eligible providing they undertake their scholarship in a third location, in which they do not have citizenship or residency rights and where they have never previously been a citizen or permanent resident.
23. If, while undertaking a scholarship program on a study abroad basis, they would not be enrolled at their Australian university?
For the purposes of the NCP scholarship program, an applicant who would take a leave of absence to undertake their approved study abroad program, for which they would receive full credit at their Australian university, is eligible to apply.
24. Are enrolled in a graduate-entry bachelor’s degree program?
Graduate-entry bachelor’s degree programs are classified as ‘undergraduate’ (e.g. MBBS) and students undertaking these programs are eligible for NCP scholarships. Students undertaking postgraduate degree programs (such as MD, JD or similar programs) are not eligible for NCP scholarships.
After the selection process
25. When are applicants required to provide evidence of acceptance at the host institution?
Evidence of acceptance at the host institution must be provided by successful applicants to the support services organisation, prior to the applicant commencing their scholarship.
This evidence could be in the form of a document from the host institution to the applicant, or the applicant’s home university, confirming enrolment, or a letter from the home university to the applicant confirming that the placement at the host institution has been agreed.
26. If acceptances at a host institution falls through, can the host location be changed?
No, the primary host location cannot be changed although the host institution can be changed.
27. How will Australian Government representatives assist NCP Scholars overseas?
Please see Section 2 of the 2016 Scholarship Program Guidelines for a list of scholarship benefits. These include provision of a support services organisation engaged to provide support services to all scholarship awardees, including a dedicated case manager, pre-departure briefing, advice on health and travel insurance and accommodation, the provision of information regarding potential internship hosts in certain locations and payment of allowances.
Please see Section 7 of the 2016 Scholarship Program Guidelines for details on the roles and responsibilities of the Australian Government, Australian Universities, students and the support services organisation.
The Australian Government – including through its network of diplomatic missions (embassies, high commissions and consulates) overseas – may invite NCP Scholarship awardees to participate in a range of events.
If Scholars find themselves in difficulty overseas which they are unable to resolve through their case manager, they should contact their relevant Australian diplomatic mission. Australian diplomatic missions overseas can provide a range of consular services and assistance to Australian nationals overseas. In an emergency, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra can also be contacted for assistance from anywhere in the world on +61 2 6261 3305 (or 1300 555 135 if in Australia).