Welcome Remarks by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
New Colombo Plan Information Session
10 September 2014
Good morning to everyone, and thank you all for joining us this morning as we move forward to the next phase of the New Colombo Plan – a flagship initiative of the Australian Government.
May I take a moment to acknowledge the presence of Attorney Lily Freida Milla, representing the Commission on Higher Education. We are particularly delighted to have the support of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) as we roll out this new program, so thank you for joining us today.
On the 26th of August in Canberra, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced that, beginning in 2015, Australia would expand the New Colombo Plan to over 35 countries in the Indo-Pacific, including the Philippines.
I am delighted that, with the approval of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, and the assistance of Secretary Patricia Licuanan of the Commission on Higher Education, the Philippines will be a part of this next phase of the New Colombo Plan. Australia and the Philippines are long-term partners in education and this will mark another milestone in our vibrant and enduring partnership.
Under this program, Australian undergraduate students will apply to come to the Philippines to study for a short period, under what we’re calling the mobility stream, or for a longer period of up to a year, as what will be called a Program scholar. An important aspect of the program will be encouraging students to seek internships, mentorships and other work-related opportunities while they are studying in their host country.
Like the original Colombo Plan from the 1950s, which saw thousands of students from South and Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, studying in Australian universities, the New Colombo Plan aims to foster intellectual exchange and collaboration between our two countries, to encourage students to learn about and to experience life in their host country, and to assist students to develop networks and build friendships across the region. Leveraging these intrinsic values of education, we hope the program will bring about greater cultural awareness in Australian students, stimulating new ideas and innovation, and promoting growth and prosperity in the region.
Australia has much to learn from our friends in the region and through the New Colombo Plan Australian undergraduates will serve as life-long ambassadors, strengthening cultural, institutional and people-to-people links between Australia and our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific.
Over time, the Australian Government wants this to become a rite of passage for Australian students, ensuring a more Asia-aware Australian workforce, and promoting such exchanges as a highly valued experience across the Australian community.
The New Colombo Plan will encourage a genuine two-way flow of students within the region, including to the Philippines.
It is my hope that we will see an increase in the number of Australian undergraduates coming to the Philippines to study and that this will complement the large number of Filipino students who travel to Australia to study each year.
Australia and the Philippines share a broad and deep relationship. Across all its aspects – from defence cooperation, development assistance, law enforcement, trade and investment – these links are underlined by and nurtured through education – whether that be scholarships, specialist training or other exchanges.
Education is also a key focus of our development assistance program in the Philippines, providing scholarships to Filipinos to enable them to contribute to the Philippines’ development and supporting the Philippine education sector particularly.
The New Colombo Plan is one way we can further strengthen this education partnership between our two countries. I hope today’s session encourages us to look forward to areas of further and deeper collaboration, particularly between universities in our two countries.
I want to thank you all very much for being here today and taking the time to learn more about the program. I also want to thank those universities who have already expressed support for the program. We look forward to working with you all in the future.
Once again, thank you for being with us today.