Four students from The University of Western Australia will take up scholarships enabling them to live, study and work in the Indo-Pacific region next year under the Federal Government's New Colombo Plan - a program that seeks to improve the cultural awareness of Australia's future leaders.
Each has been awarded a 2015 New Colombo Plan (NCP) scholarship. In a first for UWA, one of the students was also named an NCP Fellow - an additional award given to the top-ranked NCP scholar in each Indo-Pacific location, in recognition of their achievement.
That award went to UWA honours student James Panarettos, of Mosman Park. Scholarships also went to UWA students Anton Lucanus (Bassendean), Theodore Stapleton (Mount Hawthorn) and Rebecca Lawrence (Mount Hawthorn).
The awardees were named by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Education Minister Christopher Pyne at a formal ceremony in Canberra this week.
Ms Bishop said the recipients - 69 students from 23 universities across Australia - had been chosen from more than 225 applicants because they "demonstrated academic excellence, a strong commitment to engaging with our neighbours and the character to represent Australia with distinction".
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Johnson congratulated the UWA recipients on their achievement.
"I wish each of the students well as they embark on these exciting and transformational journeys - journeys which will not only strengthen them academically, but strengthen their personal networks, develop their international perspectives and increase understanding between our nations," Professor Johnson said.
The students will experience a semester abroad in an Indo-Pacific country of their choice, where they will study the local language as well as participate in an internship or mentorship opportunity. James and Anton will travel to Singapore, Theodore will travel to China, while Rebecca will travel to Indonesia.
Previous NCP scholarship winner Eliot Courtney said his experience helped to improve his Japanese, expanded his global networks and inspired him to learn more about Japan.
"Improving my Japanese language skills and seeing more of Japanese culture makes me want to learn even more. I think the only way I can continue to do this is by moving to and working in Japan, which I intend to do," Eliot said.
This week's announcement follows the New Colombo Plan 2015 mobility round outcomes announced in November, when UWA was awarded 104 places to give undergraduate students the opportunity to study in an Indo-Pacific location in 2015.
The New Colombo Plan has two key elements: a mobility program that supports Australian undergraduates to undertake study or internship/mentorship in the Indo Pacific region; and the scholarship program. Earlier this year, UWA was successful in receiving scholarships for students to improve their knowledge of Japan and Indonesia.