University of Sydney students Singapore bound under new Colombo Plan

13 February 2014

University of Sydney students are among the first tranche of Australian students to be awarded the opportunity to travel to Asia under the Australian Government's New Colombo Plan - a major initiative to enhance knowledge of the Indo Pacific region, and strengthen our personal and institutional ties, through scholarship and internships.

Twenty University of Sydney students have been selected to travel to Singapore to analyse the impact of ageing and ethnic diversity on its housing policy.

The University of Sydney students represent a range of study disciplines including architecture, design and planning; arts and social sciences; science; and business. Together as a project team, they will draw upon their various areas of expertise, to work with local authorities, National University of Singapore academics and students, and NGOs, to try to find solutions to this pressing real-world problem.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence said he was thrilled that the University of Sydney's model of cross-disciplinary work, where different areas of study work together to find solutions to society's biggest challenges, would underpin its participation in the program.

He congratulated the Government on the scheme, saying it would help transform Australia's relations in the region.

"The University of Sydney's focus is to enable our people to collaborate together in new ways to pursue excellence, and foster innovation that delivers even greater impact," Dr Spence said.

"The Australian Government should be congratulated for providing Australian students with this exciting opportunity to help find solutions to challenges that affect our region, and to build ties with our neighbours by participating in their society and making an important contribution.

"Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop is right to focus on transforming and deepening our connections with the Indo Pacific with this important initiative."

The University of Sydney students' participation in the Singapore field school project will be facilitated by the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre (SSEAC), which brings together the University's 220 academics working on and in Southeast Asia - one of the highest concentrations of regional expertise in the world.

The project, funded under the New Colombo Plan, is an extension of a model piloted by SSEAC in Timor Leste in 2013, where students from the disciplines of agriculture, education and medicine collaborated on food security issues. The staff-led model of mobility into Asia offers students a well-supported yet challenging opportunity to learn about and engage with countries in their region.

University of Sydney Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education Operations) Professor Tyrone Carlin joined Dr Spence in congratulating the Government on the New Colombo Plan and the opportunities it presented students.

"The New Colombo Plan helps the University build on its long tradition of sending students to Asia to meaningfully enrich the student experience," Professor Carlin said.

"By engaging with real-world problems the students who participate in the New Colombo Plan will develop practical and professional skills that they will need to use on a day-to-day basis when they complete their degree."

"In this case, it will equip them with not only with a cross-disciplinary understanding of the challenges associated with housing in Singapore but also skills in negotiating, communicating and problem solving in a cross-cultural setting."

For more informationabout the trip to Singapore and other opportunities available to University of Sydney students through the New Colombo Plan, please visit the University's student exchange website.

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Media enquiries: Sarah Switzer, 0419 278 715