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Expanded New Colombo Plan to further student opportunities

The three initiatives announced today by Minister for Foreign Affairs the Hon Julie Bishop MP to expand the New Colombo Plan (NCP) will further improve future prospects of students and deepen engagement between universities and business in our region.

The three NCP initiatives announced today are:

  • The Internship and Mentorship Network - an online portal that will connect NCP students with businesses offering mentorship and internship opportunities;
  • The Mobility Partners Program - a program to cultivate partnerships between universities and business; and
  • The Business Champions Initiative - an initiative to assist business to promote overseas study experiences to students.

"The New Colombo Plan is a magnificent program to improve the international experiences and connections of students, which is increasingly important for Australia as part of the globalisation trend," said Universities Australia Chair Professor Barney Glover in a speech at the announcement event.

Professor Glover noted the number of students studying offshore has been steadily growing over the last five years, such that Australia can now say that close to 15 per cent of a graduating class of bachelor degree students will have had some offshore study experience - twice as many as five years ago.

"The inclusion of internships and mentorships in the NCP model has enabled the participation of business and demonstrated a clear link between offshore study, work experience and enhanced graduate outcomes," said Universities Australia Deputy Chief Executive Anne-Marie Lansdown.

Research conducted for Universities Australia (Prospect Research, 2013) on attitudes of employers and opinion leaders towards overseas study observed that mobility programs add to students' capabilities and strengths. In particular, employers cited enhanced independence, a greater ability to build networks, a willingness to stretch boundaries and beneficial exposure to different societies and cultures as positive attributes of globally mobile students.

"The New Colombo Plan is only in its second year but its impact in driving Australian students toward study in the Indo-Pacific region has been immediately apparent - in fact China is now the most popular destination for short term study offshore," said Ms Lansdown.

"The addition of this new network and the involvement of so many of Australia's leading businesses is testament to their confidence in the program despite its still short life."

Universities Australia has been working closely with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australian Industry Group, Business Council of Australia and Australian Collaborative Education Network to develop and now implement the National Strategy for Work Integrated Learning in University Education. The strategy aims to improve graduate employability by better linking employers, university students and graduates to improve our overall capacity to drive innovation and productivity. Today's announcement supports the strategy.

"In the future we will see more Australian graduates entering the workforce with direct experience and knowledge of international business practices," said Ms Lansdown.

Universities Australia Media Contacts

Louise Dodson
02 6285 8133
Mob:  0400 166 691

Patrick Pantano
Ph: 02 6285 8123 

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