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155 Cabinet Submission by Chifley and Pollard

Agendum 1414 CANBERRA, 12 January 1948


Proposal by British Council and United Kingdom High Commissioner
1. On 29th January, 1947, the United Kingdom High Commissioner
approached the Australian Government with the request that
Australia should consider what could be done to help revive
British influence in Siam and in particular to provide facilities
with or without financial assistance for the training of Siamese
in Australia.

2. The matter arose out of a tour of the Far East by
representatives of the British Council, who found that in Siam the
teaching of English and the knowledge of the British way of life
which before the war occupied an important place in Siamese
education, had practically collapsed. It was found, however, that
the Siamese were eager to revive it but felt unable to do so
without outside assistance. The United Kingdom Foreign Secretary
felt that this assistance should be forthcoming quickly since it
would help to secure the friendship of Siam, ensure the spread of
British ideas and influence in that country, and prevent other
foreign influences from supplanting British influence there.

3. The Foreign Office therefore asked Australia (and also New
Zealand) whether, in view of the interest we were taking in Siam,
we would be prepared to assist in training Siamese students in

Views of Commonwealth Departments
4. The matter was submitted to the Departments of Immigration,
Post-War Reconstruction and External Affairs whose views were as

(a) Immigration: If it was decided to make facilities available
for the education of a limited number of selected Siamese
students, approval would be given for the temporary admission into
Australia of such students to enable them to complete their
courses, on advice being furnished that satisfactory arrangements
had been made for their maintenance whilst here.

(b) Post- War Reconstruction: It was considered that the provision
of opportunities for students from Far Eastern countries would be
a desirable goodwill gesture and give practical encouragement to
the growth of good international relations and understanding.

Australian Universities would probably enrol students for courses
in Public Administration, Arts, Law, Economics or Commerce,
Medicine, Science, Agricultural and Veterinary Science, Education
and Engineering. The possibility of Asiatic students desiring
courses at Technical, Agricultural or Teachers' Colleges was also
mentioned. Numbers of such students would, it is thought, be very

Apart from the question of providing educational facilities in
Australia for Asiatic students who do not require financial
assistance, the Minister for Post-War Reconstruction suggested
that the Commonwealth might consider it appropriate to offer the
Siamese Authorities annually a scholarship tenable for from two to
four years. Arrangements for the supervision of the studies and
welfare of the scholars while in Australia could be made by the
Commonwealth Office of Education in co-operation with consular or
diplomatic representatives. Details of the costs of such a scheme
are shown in the attached annex. An estimate of the cost of one
scholarship for four years covering all expenses was given as

(c) External Affairs: The provision of educational facilities in
Australia for Asiatic students generally was strongly recommended,
and steps had been taken to provide information on such
facilities, and on immigration procedure, for all Australian
representatives in the Pacific. It was felt, however, that the
proposal for Commonwealth scholarships should not apply only to
Siam, but provision should be made for the offer of similar
scholarships initially to India, the Republics of Indonesia and
the Philippines, and perhaps later, to certain other Asiatic

Developments in connection with U.N.E.S. C. O. [1]

5. The requirement of the Department of External Affairs regarding
assistance to other Asiatic countries besides Siam is partly in
process of being met by a proposal at present under consideration
that part of Australia's contribution to U.N.E.S.C.O.

reconstruction and relief activities should be in the form of
fellowships and scholarships [2] for professional training at
various institutions such as Universities, Technical Colleges,
Teachers' Colleges. Such a scheme would apply to India, Pakistan,
Burma, Malaya, China, Philippines and Indonesia.

6. In the course of time, however, these rehabilitation activities
will cease, and it is considered that as this occurs, their place
should be taken by a purely Australian scheme for assisting
Asiatic students in all educational fields. It is considered that
a first step in this direction might be the provision of three
scholarships for students from South East Asian countries, to
commence in 1948. Siam which is excluded from the U.N.E.S.C.O.

scheme because it is not regarded as a war devastated country,
would be considered along with other South East Asian countries,
for one of these three scholarships. In succeeding years,
consideration might be given to developing this form of Australian
assistance and perhaps extending it to all the countries referred
to above which are already partly catered for at the moment by the
U.N.E.S.C.O. reconstruction programme.

7. It is, therefore, recommended that provisions be made for three
Australian scholarships annually for South East Asian pupils to
commence study in Australia in 1948, the total annual expenditure
not to exceed 5,000. [3]

1 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural

2 See Volume 12, Document 76.

3 Cabinet approved the recommendation on the same day. On 5
September 1949 Cabinet varied the allotment to provide for two
scholarships of four years each, one of three years and one of two
years (to allow for a Malaysian none) provided the cost remained
the same.

[AA:A2700, VOL. 35]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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