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Australia expands New Colombo Plan

The Australian government has expanded the number of grants awarded for 2016 through its New Colombo Plan and announced three new initiatives to increase opportunities for students in business.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the Launch of the New Colombo Plan in 2013.

"Australia is investing in the next generation of leaders who will continue to build on our important relationships within our region"

Following a successful two-year pilot programme that funded study and work abroad placements for more than 4,500 Australian students, the NCP will up the number of student mobility grants offered to students travelling to 28 countries in the Asia Pacific region.

“10,000 young Australians are learning more about our immediate region and developing skills and understanding that provide new insights and perspectives for their future careers”

The expansion means that 10,000 students will have studied abroad under the programme in its first three years.

“As a result, 10,000 young Australians are learning more about our immediate region and developing skills and understanding that provide new insights and perspectives for their future careers,” Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop announced.

“In turn, Australia is investing in the next generation of leaders who will continue to build on our important relationships within our region.”

Undergraduate students in Australia in any discipline can apply for the mobility grants, which can be used for a range of projects including short-term study tours, semesters abroad and internships.

The three new business programmes announced this month will increase internship and mentorship opportunities for students, enabling them to build professional networks and develop workplace skills.

Around 100 internship and mentorship opportunities have already been listed on a new online portal connecting businesses and NCP students through the New Colombo Plan Internship and Mentorship Network.

Meanwhile, a new Mobility Partners Program will aim to foster partnerships between Australian universities and businesses in both Australia and host countries.

The NCP has also named nine business leaders who will promote regional study and work experience through the Business Champions Initiative.

GE Australia and New Zealand President and Chief Executive Geoff Culbert and KPMG National Leader Asia Business Group Doug Ferguson are among the inaugural Business Champions.

The Australian government has committed AUS$100m to fund the five-year NCP, its flagship programme to promote student mobility into Asia, which first rolled out in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan and Singapore in 2014.

It aims to increase education links across the Indo-Pacific, one of the ambitions stated in Australia’s recently-announced National Strategy for International Education.

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