Associate Professor Ly Tran1, Ms Joanne Barker2, Dr Mark Rahimi3, Ms Elena Williams4, Mr Alam Ikhlas5
1Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia, 2RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, 3Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia, 4Australia-Indonesia Consulting/ ANU, Melbourne/ Canberra, Australia, 5Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia
Chair: Elena Williams
‘Public diplomacy’ initiatives represent a key pillar of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT’s) operations. One of these initiatives is its signature scholarship and grants program for undergraduate students, The New Colombo Plan (NCP). At an investment of almost AUD$200 million and boasting nearly 50,000 alumni since its launch in 2014, the program is hailed as a success by the Australian Government, key university partners and business leaders. While several studies on the NCP have emerged in recent years, further critical inquiry is warranted regarding the NCP’s impact on relationship-building in the region and on students’ lives and career trajectories. Drawing on recent research findings, this panel will examine the role of the NCP in the broader context of Australian Government scholarship schemes; its impact on graduate employability and intercultural capability outcomes; and its assumed suitability as a means of strengthening Australia’s relationships in the region and strengthening ‘public diplomacy’ and ‘people-to-people’ relationships.