Whether its Taiwan’s female entrepreneurial spirit, Singapore’s infrastructure or South Korea’s advanced healthcare system, there is a lot to learn in the Indo Pacific for the five UTS New Colombo Plan (NCP) Scholarship recipients for 2019.
In recent months the undergraduate students have been planning for how they might use an NCP scholarship, worth AUD $69,000, and now those plans are off the drawing board with the awarding of the scholarships this week in Canberra.
An initiative of the Australian Government, the NCP program’s goal is to deepen Australia’s relationship with its regional neighbours.
The students’ NCP adventures will see them spend up to 18 months in the region, involving a combination of study, internships and language classes.
Bachelor of Business student Anthony Chu’s aim for this unique experience is to gain the skills needed to help Australia finance critical infrastructure.
I want to step out the expat bubble, acclimatise with the local students and use these experiences to help international students back at UTS to make some local friends.
“I’ll start my trip with intensive language training and just communicating in Mandarin, trying to improve my literacy and speaking skills,” Anthony said.
“Then I will be starting my study component at Shanghai University, where I'll be doing some international business subjects to learn about trade, the culture of China, and how it reformed its policy (in the field of critical infrastructure).”
Anthony is looking forward to his internship at the Cheung Kong Infrastructure Group in Hong Kong.
“Cheung Kong invests heavily in critical infrastructure. I want to pick their brains, understand why they're investing in Australia, what the opportunities are and maybe I can help develop the relationships, or better understand that.”
Countries in the Indo Pacific region cannot only provide Australia with new insights into how to fund critical infrastructure. According to double degree business and law student Ethan Huang learnings from Singapore could help tackle the current issue of housing affordability.
“I’m focusing on the legal tech space and the two primary things I'm looking into are artificial intelligence and blockchain (distributed ledger technology),” Ethan said.
“My own interests are property law, land titles and blockchain. In Singapore, about 80 per cent of the property industry is government-built housing and with the housing affordability issues here in Australia, maybe we can learn from that and maybe we can also apply technology like blockchain to make it more efficient, bring more cost savings and hopefully bring prices down.”
Although the scholars have designed their programs around how they might help unlock Australia’s future, the trips involve more than just accumulating knowledge. Jessie Nguyen, doing a double degree in communication and law, thinks it’s the whole package from start to finish that makes the opportunity special.
“The interview experience down in Canberra was really great,” Jessie said. “Just meeting some of the other young people from around the country who were really, really passionate about big issues. They had set out ideas of what they want to pursue and where they want to be, as emerging leaders.”
Jessie, whose goal is to learn from Taiwan’s female entrepreneurial spirit, thinks the NCP adventure will help her define her future.
“I think it'll help me pinpoint exactly what I'm really passionate about and what I want to do in the future.”
In a rapidly changing world, she hopes to find answers during her trip.
“A lot of us are asked, ‘What do you do? What do you want to do when you graduate?’ and we don't really have an idea because industries and technology are changing so quickly, so everyone's trying to develop multi-disciplinary skills.
“I think it'll be a great opportunity to reflect, and test out and really experiment what I want to do in the next few years.”
For health science student William Lam there’s a lot to achieve in a limited time, like learning new languages, gaining new skills and building international relationships. “Making the most of the NCP program will be the biggest challenge,” he said.
Meanwhile, Benjamin Zhang, doing a double degree IT and business, hopes his experience can contribute to the opening of doors to more job opportunities overseas for Australians.
Anthony Chu says he can’t wait to bring his experiences back to UTS and Australia. “In China I want to step out the expat bubble, acclimatise with the local students and use these experiences to help international students back at UTS to make some local friends.
“I’ll promote the great opportunities in Asia to students by telling them about the New Colombo Plan Scholarship, mobility grants, and where they can go. They should take advantage of this opportunity in Asia, to work and study over there.”