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New Colombo Plan Mobility Program 2022 Round advice to applicants

The revised 2021 Principles for the Virtual Delivery of Mobility projects, which take effect from 1 July 2021, are available in the Resource Centre on ISEO.

1. Key changes in the 2022 round

a) Grant period

Funding will be offered for single-term projects only (i.e. no multi-term projects). The project term is extended to 21 months, from 1 January 2022 to 30 September 2023.

b) Project duration

A mobility project must be for a minimum of 14 continuous days (from date of departure to the overseas project location, to return from that location), and must be completed by the end date of the project.

A mobility project may offer multiple, different-length periods for overseas mobility. For example, a mobility project may offer a 2-week mode and a 10-week mode. There is no longer a requirement to stipulate whether a grant is for a Short-term or Semester length project.

c) Grant amounts

You will be required to indicate the number of students who will participate in the project.

You should include the actual cost per student in the Project Description (between $1,000 and $7,000), as well as any differences in grant amounts (see below). A guide for determining the amount of each student grant is outlined in the Guidelines (see section 5.2).

Students who undertake different activities within a project may receive different grant amounts. For example, where one student is participating in a 10-week mode of the project while a second student is participating in a 2-week mode of the project. This should be outlined in the Project Description, along with the actual cost per student in the following format (examples only):

  • 5 students for 10 weeks at $5,000 per student: $25,000 total
  • 20 students for 2 weeks at $1,000 per student: $20,000 total
  • Total cost: $45,000
  • Average cost per student: $1,800

If you are also delivering the project virtually, please outline the average costs per student.

Assessors will consider relative value-with-money, and the NCP goal of maximising student participation. Where the proposed per student grant is outside the guide in 5.2, applicants should provide a justification in their responses to Criterion 3 and/or 4.

d) Secondary locations

You may now nominate a secondary host location, noting that projects in single locations are still preferred.

e) Virtual delivery

An application may include, as a secondary location, a ‘virtual’ location. (An approved 2022 project which has a virtual location will not require a variation to allow virtual implementation)

For the 2022 Round, we encourage institutions to develop flexible projects that could be adapted for face-to face or virtual delivery, as circumstances allow.

Where a project includes virtual and face-to-face modes of delivery, please provide differentiated costs for both modes of delivery.

If a project application does not include a virtual secondary location, the host university may during the implementation period, seek a variation to allow virtual delivery.

f) Host institution

Projects may not be undertaken at an offshore campus of an Australian university or a university established or headquartered outside the host location (see section 5.8).

g) Project partners

Universities must exercise due diligence in their choice of partners, including investigating partners’ bona fides, systems and safeguards (for example, risk management and child protection) and capacity to comply with relevant NCP Guidelines.

Universities should consider how their projects will impact local communities. For example, students paying to volunteer can lead to demand–driven activities in disadvantaged communities. Applicants whose projects include volunteering overseas should read DFAT advice on smart volunteering and Smartraveller advice on responsible volunteering.

h) Pre-departure training

DFAT provided eLearning on Risks and Responsibilities must be undertaken by all students. Please see updated wording at section 2.5(q).

i) Assessment process

The four assessment criteria are weighted equally. Eligible applications will be assessed against how well they meet the selection criteria. Consideration will also be given to:

  • value with money, as demonstrated by the number of university students expected to participate, grant amounts, and the duration of the mobility project
  • quality education outcomes
  • sustaining linkages and impact
  • sound risk management
  • the university’s track record in meeting reporting requirements, including completion reports and financial acquittal, under previous NCP Mobility funded projects.

2. Priority themes

Universities are encouraged to consider the following themes when preparing their applications:

  • tackling shared challenges with the Indo-Pacific, such as communicable disease, cybersecurity, climate change and regional stability
  • embracing innovation and new ways of working, such as clean energy, e-commerce, and tele-health and engineering
  • building capacity in areas such as education, health, transport, environmental management and governance
  • increasing trade and investment opportunities, and recovery from COVID-19

3. Host location eligibility

Section 5.6 states that “Mobility projects must not involve travel to or remain in a Host Location or region within a host location for which the Smartraveller advice is ‘Do not travel’ or ‘Reconsider your need to travel’”.

It is anticipated that host many locations will still be listed as ‘Do not travel’ during the application period due to the health risks from the COVID-19 pandemic and the significant disruptions to global travel. Some locations were already set at ‘Do not travel’ prior to COVID-19 due to the risk to safety. Applicants may propose projects for travel to ‘Do not travel’ locations, but are strongly discouraged from proposing programs in a Host Location, or region within a Host Location, for which Smartraveller recommends “Do not travel” for reasons in addition to the health risks from the COVID-19 pandemic and the significant disruptions to global travel. This distinction is made clear in Smartraveller.

Travel cannot proceed to such locations if that travel advice remains in place at the proposed time of departure (see 2.5 (b)) for any reason.

4. Lessons from previous rounds

Applications that were unsuccessful in previous rounds often lacked specific detail of project activities. The applications did not indicate how links with the Indo-Pacific (institution and people-to-people) would be sustained beyond the life of the project or did not provide details of efforts to support participation by students from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Stronger applications demonstrated the direct links that would be established between Australian institutions and those in the Indo-Pacific (rather than using third party providers) and how relationships would be sustained beyond NCP funding, e.g. through joint research/innovation, reciprocal student/staff mobility, joint delivery of academic programs and alumni engagement.

Applications that proposed the use of Third-Party Providers were often unclear as to how the linkages between Australian and Indo-Pacific institutions would be sustained beyond NCP funding. Applications that established direct relationships with Indo-Pacific institutions usually provided stronger evidence that these links would be sustained.

5. What defines a strong application for the NCP Mobility Program?

Mobility project applications that scored well in previous rounds:

  • clearly and concisely addressed all elements of each relevant assessment criterion, and
  • provided practical examples to demonstrate how the project meets the assessment criteria and will achieve the NCP objectives.

a) Project summary

A clear, comprehensive project description, outlining the project’s objectives and rationale, with practical examples of project activities, and the lessons learned from previous engagement, will enable assessors to understand the project and provide a more informed assessment.

b) Selection criteria

Applicants should address all elements of the assessment criteria and provide practical examples.

Strong applications demonstrate:

  • clear understanding of the New Colombo Plan’s strategic objectives and outcomes and explain how a project will meet those objectives.
  • direct links that will be established between Australian institutions and those in the Indo-Pacific (rather than using third party providers) and
  • how relationships will be sustained beyond NCP funding, e.g. through joint research/innovation, reciprocal student/staff mobility, joint delivery of academic programs and alumni engagement.

Applications were assessed more highly if they explained/justified the choice of host location and showed an appreciation of the local context. For example, articulation of what Australian students will gain by studying/interning in a particular country/location/institution.

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