Big tick for new Colombo Plan

The Abbott Government’s New Colombo Plan and predecessor schemes from the Rudd and Gillard governments have “potential to offer enormous benefits to Australian students, universities and communities,” according to new research for the International Education Association of Australia by Ly Thi Tran and Mark Rahimi from Deakin U.

The international study and internships scheme, “embraces the government’s commitment for young Australians to be exposed to, enrich their understandings of, and learn from IndoPacific neighbours,” they write.

The authors cite NCP achievements including;

* it has “significantly diversified student mobility options for Australian universities”

* has “broadened destination options for Australian students to the Indo-Pacific, a region critical to Australia’s economic and political development”

* it “plays a crucial role in strengthening Australia’s position in the region through people-to-people, university-to-university, university-to-enterprise and government-to-government connections”

* contributes “to diversifying, enriching and reinforcing Australian universities’ partnerships with universities and organisations in the Indo-Pacific”

However, Tran and Rahimi say the NCP needs to improve access for disadvantaged students and  “develop a more structured and coherent approach to learning abroad.”
Good-o, but even with the NCP expanding the number of Australian students off-shore, two of the five most popular destinations, the UK and Italy, hardly encourage understanding of the IndoPacific region. The US is number one, presumably NCP students go to its five Pacific-coast states.


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