Abbott launches ‘New Colombo Plan’ for Oz students to study in India

JAPAN-AUSTRALIA-DIPLOMACYMUMBAI: Pushing for his government’s initiative to create greater awareness among students of Australia about the Indo-Pacific region, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott today said he will ensure “hundreds and thousands” of students from his country study in Indian universities from next year.

“Presently there are thousands of Indian students studying in Australian universities, but there are very few Australian students here. This will change now. Australian students will now come here to study. From next year onwards, there will be hundreds and thousands of Australian students studying in India,” Abbott said.

Abbott, in Mumbai on the first leg of his two-day India visit, was addressing a gathering of Chancellors of various Australian universities and Vice Chancellors of some of the top Indian universities at the launch of his government’s ‘New Colombo Plan’ in India.

The New Colombo Plan is a signature initiative of the Australian government which aims at enhancing the knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia by supporting undergraduates from that country to study and undertake internships in the region.

He said the Australian government, by starting the New Colombo Plan now wants to “return the compliment” to India for sending thousands of students to study in Australian universities under the Colombo plan launched in 1950.

Colombo plan is a collective inter-governmental effort to strengthen economic and social development of member countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The primary focus of all Colombo Plan activities is on human resource development.

Though formally the organization was born out of a Commonwealth Conference of Foreign Ministers held in Sri Lankan capital Colombo in January 1950 with only seven countries, including India and Australia, it has now transformed into a truly international initiative with 27 member nations with inclusion of non-Commonwealth countries.

“In 1950, when the Colombo plan was launched, about 14,000 Indian students came to Australia for studies. We now want to return the favor to India and send some of our best students to study here,” Abbott said.

“We have much to offer to India and India has much to offer to Australia, so much we can learn from each other,” he added.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was exchanged by the heads of various Australian and Indian universities to felicitate the entry of Australian undergraduates into Indian universities under the New Colombo plan.

The Chancellors of several Australian universities, including those at Sydney, Queensland, Melbourne and Western Sydney, attended the event at the MumbaiUniversity along with their counterparts from DelhiUniversity, University of Calcutta and University of Mysore.–PTI

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