In 2015–16, the department led the New Colombo Plan (NCP) into its
third year.

We supported more Australian undergraduate students to undertake credit-bearing study and work-based learning in 32 locations across the Indo–Pacific.

We funded a greater number of mobility projects—supporting 5,450 students up from 3,150 in 2015—and more scholarships—100 up from 69 in 2015. Over half of these scholarships were awarded to women.

Responding to feedback from Australian universities and students, the department launched the Bennelong Foundation NCP Cross-Cultural Training Program, funded by the Bennelong Foundation, the Myer Foundation and Asialink Business. The program provided pre-departure training to around 280 students.

The department facilitated ongoing connection with the program for 87 scholars and approximately 5,500 mobility students through the NCP Alumni Program. Alumni received access to networking events, professional development opportunities and membership of the Australia Global Alumni website and NCP LinkedIn group. In the first half of 2016, the department launched the NCP Alumni Program in Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania with other states to follow.

Nearly all Australian universities maintained a high level of involvement with the program. The introduction of multi-year funding in 2016 enabled universities to establish longer-term arrangements with their overseas partners. The department undertook regular consultations on program implementation with staff at Australian universities and focused our promotion efforts at the tertiary level. We showcased the NCP during domestic and international meetings, including presenting at the 2016 Asia–Pacific Association for International Education conference in Melbourne.

Increasing numbers of private sector organisations engaged enthusiastically with the NCP in response to the department’s ongoing outreach to business. Ten senior business representatives—appointed as NCP Business Champions—actively promoted the program. The department launched the NCP Internships and Mentorships Network online portal in response to feedback about difficulties sourcing internships. By the end of June 2016, 203 private sector organisations had registered opportunities on the portal. In the 2016 Mobility Program, around 75 per cent of funded projects involved an internship, practicum or other work-based placement.

The department continued to work with regional governments to implement the NCP and hosted high-level launch events in China, Papua New Guinea and Taiwan. The department held bilateral discussions to clarify visa conditions, resulting in a number of host governments considering new visa categories to support student internships. We hosted workshops in Cambodia, Taiwan and Vietnam to facilitate collaboration by Australian and local universities and private sector organisations on mobility programs.


Building personal networks and institutional links to enhance Australia’s influence, reputation and relationships internationally and promote Australia’s economic, cultural, educational, scientific and other national assets

Helping Australian students to live, study and undertake work experience in the
Indo–Pacific region

Case Study
New Colombo Plan scholar Asher Taccori visiting the UN World Food Programme Office in Bangkok. [Asher Taccori]
New Colombo Plan scholar Asher Taccori at the UN World Food Programme Office, Bangkok, 2 November 2015. [Asher Taccori]

Helping Australian students to live, study and undertake work experience in the Indo–Pacific region

‘I have never felt more confident with my life direction and career ambitions as a result of the opportunities which were created by the New Colombo Plan program.’

Asher Taccori, 2015 New Colombo Plan Fiji Fellow

A New Colombo Plan scholarship supported University of Wollongong Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics student Asher Taccori to pursue his passion for food security.

Asher studied for a semester at the University of the South Pacific in Suva. He worked with the Ministry of Health, learning about food security in Fiji, and with Fiji’s largest hospital shadowing a small team of dietitians. The combination of classroom learning and work placement opportunities created the perfect academic experience. Like many NCP students, he gained new perspectives, knowledge and connections that will assist him to play a role in Australia’s future while better understanding the geographic region in which Australia is situated.

Asher also undertook an internship in Kiribati with the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security. He surveyed locals on household food security, describing it as incredibly insightful to hear about the change in local diet with the introduction of imported foods and the continual pressures posed by rising waters, severe droughts and less locally available food.

Asher completed this program with a five-month internship with the UN World Food Programme in Bangkok. His research focused on the first 1,000 days of a child’s life—the biggest window of opportunity to break the malnutrition cycle.

The NCP scholarship inspired Asher to work in development. He is now leading a team working on improving agricultural yields, agricultural education and empowerment of women in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Asher is a passionate advocate of the improved employability and Asia capability that can be derived from participation in the NCP. He has returned to the University of Wollongong to promote the program to students and faculty members and has supported the rollout of the NCP Alumni Program by addressing participants at an alumni event in New South Wales.

Asher’s experience is typical of the positive impact of the NCP on its recipients and participating institutions. It is creating new networks that enhance Australia’s engagement with the region and contribute to closer relationships between Australia and our Indo–Pacific partners. Evaluation of student experiences found that 85 per cent of mobility and 96 per cent of scholarship respondents reported greater Asia-capability. Almost universally, students reported greater enthusiasm for travelling and engaging with the Indo–Pacific and improved knowledge and understanding of their host location. Eighty-eight per cent of host organisations reported that the NCP helped build relations with Australian universities.

Analysis and outlook

By supporting 10,000 students in the first three years, the department has used the NCP to promote study in the Indo–Pacific region as a more common element in an Australian undergraduate degree. Through the NCP, the department has built greater understanding of the region across a wide range of sectors. Students who may not have previously considered study abroad have undertaken NCP programs looking beyond traditional English-language study destinations to culturally and linguistically diverse locations in the Indo–Pacific.

Ongoing support from business enabled the department to expand work-based learning opportunities in the program and assist Australian graduates to become more Asia-capable future employees. Private sector organisations are offering hundreds of new work experiences for NCP students through internships, mentorships and sponsorship. This is helping to arm Australian students with the skills, experience and networks necessary to engage professionally with the region and capitalise on Asian growth.

By increasing student exchange, the department is complementing the policies of many regional countries to internationalise and strengthen their tertiary sectors. Many regional governments have expressed support for the program and its contribution to strengthening people-to-people and institutional links.

The systems and experience in the Department of Education and Training, with which the department jointly delivers the NCP, were instrumental in ensuring the rapid implementation and scale-up of the program.

Building student demand, rolling out a quality alumni program to maintain students’ engagement with the region, and partnering with the private sector will be important priorities going forward.

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