Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, and Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, have announced 120 New Colombo Plan scholarships to talented undergraduates to live, study and work in the Indo-Pacific region in 2018.

These New Colombo Plan scholars will study in 20 host locations, including for the first time, Tonga, the Federated States of Micronesia and New Caledonia.

Minister Bishop thanked the business community for its ongoing engagement, including scholarships sponsored by PwC and QBE, as well as private sector support for student internships and other work-based learning.

“I am delighted the fifth group of New Colombo Plan scholars includes inaugural QBE Indigenous Fellow, Miles Archibald, from the University of New England,” she said.

“The New Colombo Plan is for Australian undergraduates and strives to reflect the diversity of our nation – students from our cities, regional and remote areas, and from a wide range of backgrounds.”

Minister Birmingham said the program highlighted the important contribution international exchange made to Australia’s education engagement with the region.

“The New Colombo Plan is a long-term investment in the future of Australia, creating a next generation workforce with an understanding of the Indo-Pacific region and experience of working with other cultures,” Minister Birmingham said.

“Scholars build connections with their peers, get real-life work experience and boost their employability in the graduate job market.”

Launched in 2014, the New Colombo Plan is a signature initiative of the Coalition Government. By the end of 2018, more than 30,000 students will have been supported under the program, including 434 who have been awarded scholarships.