Forging stronger relations through the New Colombo Plan
The New Colombo Plan is an initiative of the new Australian Government to foster closer ties between Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. It aims to enhance knowledge of Asia-Pacific in Australia, and strengthen our people-to-people and institutional relationships through study and internships undertaken by Australian undergraduate students in the region.
The Australian Government has announced A$100 million over five years to fund the New Colombo Plan, which will commence in 2015, following a pilot phase in 2014 in which Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong are being invited to participate. It is envisaged that other regional partners will be invited to join the program from 2015. Malaysia would be well-placed to become a part of the scheme at that point, reflecting our already strong education links.
Under the New Colombo Plan, Australian students undertaking an undergraduate degree at an Australian university will be able to apply for grants and scholarships to spend time studying in Asia-Pacific. Internship will be a hallmark of the new plan, with the goal of fostering links between Australia’s best and brightest students and business and other institutions in the region, and ensuring students are “job ready” at home and in the region.
The Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, H.E. Mr Miles Kupa, said over time, the Australian Government wants to see study in the Asia-Pacific region become a “rite of passage” for Australian undergraduate students.
“We have much to learn from our friends and neighbours in the region. Through studying, learning languages, forging friendships and exchanging ideas, young Australians will return home with skills, perceptions and ideas that will boost our innovation and productivity,” he said.
Malaysia and Australia were both beneficiaries of the historic scholarship scheme administered by the original Colombo Plan, which saw over 20,000 talented young students from around the region study in Australia from the 1950s to the mid-1980s. Many of these students went on to become leaders in their field, bringing lasting benefits to their respective countries, as well as bolstering Australia’s relations within the region.
Well-known Malaysian Colombo Plan scholars include the Minister of International Trade and Industry, Dato' Sri Mustapa Mohamed; Chairman of Sime Darby Group Bhd and former Chief Minister of Johor, Dato' Haji Abdul Ghani Othman and renowned architect, Hijjas Kasturi.