The Australian Embassy said on Tuesday that nearly 550 Australian university students will arrive in Cambodia next year to study and undertake internships in the country through the support of the Australian government’s signature initiative, the New Colombo Plan.
In a Facebook post, the embassy said: “New Colombo Plan students will work with Cambodian counterparts to share and broaden their knowledge and skills in a diverse range of fields, including engineering, water and sanitation, health, teaching and law.”
Charge d’affaires Luke Arnold said in a press release that the students will come from 14 universities across Australia and hope to learn more about the Cambodian people and their culture.
A student, Bonnie Hammerschmidt, will spend eight months studying psychology at the University of Cambodia while working as an intern with Banteay Srei, an NGO that focuses on female empowerment.
The programme’s website said Australian undergraduate students aged 18 to 28 are eligible to apply for the scholarship.
The New Colombo Plan supports around 10,000 students annually. By the end of next year, its alumni will have grown to around 40,000 Australian youths.
“Australia is the overseas English-speaking study destination for most Cambodian students, with almost 3,000 enrolled in our world-class institutions.
“Combined with the fact that so many young Australians are now choosing to study in Cambodia under the New Colombo Plan, this ensures our bilateral relationship will be underpinned by strong people-to-people links,” Arnold said.
The executive director of the Youth Council of Cambodia, Im Sothy, said Cambodia will also benefit from this programme as visiting students would be able to see the country and its people, improvements in the education system and the Kingdom’s rich culture.
Cambodian Centre for Applied Philosophy and Ethics director Pa Chanroeun said the New Colombo Plan is a good programme that creates opportunities for an exchange in knowledge, skills, experience, attitude, perspectives and understanding between Australian and Cambodian youth.
“The people-to-people contact and exchanges between Australia and Cambodia will help build life-long relationships. I believe experiences from the programme will lead to fruitful cooperation in the future,” said Chanroeun.
The embassy said on Tuesday that the length of the students’ stay in the Kingdom will be contingent on the duration of their scholarship programme and the flexible mobility grants programme for both short- and long-term study.
The New Colombo Plan was first rolled out in Cambodia in 2015. As of this year, it has supported over 2,300 Australian undergraduate students to study or undertake internships in Cambodia.
“Australian students value the opportunity to enhance their skills in real-life situations, build cross-cultural competencies, and develop professional and personal networks with Cambodians that can last a lifetime.
“Cambodia is a popular destination for Australian New Colombo Plan students, with the country listed on the top 10 New Colombo Plan destinations,” said the embassy.