Understanding how Australian Government International Scholarship Programs Are Valued: The New Colombo Plan in The Broad Context

Joanne Barker

RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

In just five years, the New Colombo Plan has become the byword for international scholarship programs offered by the Australian Government. Comparing the NCP with the large DFAT Australia Awards program at the time of NCP’s launch, it was described by its founding Minister Julie Bishop as “the other side of the coin”. Bishop recognised the importance of providing opportunities for Australian students to undertake an international study experience, just as many foreign nationals experience international education in Australia. This paper will consider the role of the NCP in the broader context of other Australian Government international scholarship programs, including Australia Awards, the Endeavour Leadership Program (which was cancelled in 2019) and the new Destination Australia scholarship program launched in 2019. Research underway with Australian scholarship stakeholders and influencers has revealed insights into how the New Colombo Plan is perceived and valued, particularly now that it is the only program offering outgoing international study experiences to Australian citizens. This paper will contribute to understanding from a public policy perspective about whether governments should offer non-aid international scholarships, how these programs are valued by international education stakeholders and their impact in terms of the perceived public good.


Joanne Barker is a PhD candidate at RMIT and former Director International at the University of Adelaide. Recent consultancies include scholar selection in Bangladesh for DFAT’s Australia Awards program. She was an elected member of the IEAA Board for two terms and an invited member of the US-based TOEFL Board.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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