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Uni’s Colombo scholars to help strengthen ties with Indo-Pacific

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Four exceptional University of Newcastle (UoN) students – Jake Stephens, Katherine Birrell, Chelsea Harris and Emily Simpson – are ready to spread their wings abroad in 2022.

The quartet was recently named New Colombo Plan (NCP) Scholars through the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship in the country.

Announced in a virtual ceremony by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Senator Marise Payne, the New Colombo Plan Scholarship Program gives Australia’s best and brightest undergraduate students opportunities to undertake semester-based study and internships or mentorships in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Australian Government initiative is designed to strengthen ties between Australia and the Indo-Pacific, the initiative offering recipients the unique chance to enrich their learning and global citizenship.

Mr Stephens (Bachelor of Development Studies – Honours), Ms Birrell (Bachelor of Development Studies – Cultures & Citizenship), Ms Harris (Bachelor of Arts – Honours) and Ms Simpson (Civil Engineering – Honours) will visit Samoa, Fiji, Japan and Hong Kong respectively to develop their skills in fields such as development issues, cross-linguistic communication, and construction technology and management.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global) Professor Kent Anderson said he was impressed with the calibre of scholars representing the University of Newcastle, who would contribute to Australia’s re-engagement with the Indo-Pacific following the progressive reopening of international borders and travel into 2022.

“The New Colombo Plan Scholarship Program is about building knowledge, linking people, equipping leaders and increasing Australia’s engagement with the Indo-Pacific,” he explained.

“I congratulate Jake, Katherine, Chelsea and Emily who have each earned a unique and valuable opportunity to enhance their global awareness and broaden their knowledge.

“I wish them well as they continue to achieve excellence.”

Additional honours were awarded to Ms Birrell and Mr Stephens, named as the Fellow for their host countries, Fiji and Samoa.

Fellows are selected from among the highly-ranked applicants who are encouraged to play a strong leadership role in promoting the NCP while on their scholarship program and as part of the alumni network following completion of their scholarship.

The scholars will visit their host countries to undertake semester study or honours research as well as completing internships and language training.

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