A PLAN to allow more Australian students to study in Asia must involve regional students, says University of Ballarat vice chancellor David Battersby.
The Coalition has unveiled its $100 million “Colombo plan”, wich would provide financial support for up to 300 students to study in the region every year.
The policy is based on the original Colombo plan, which allowed 40,000 people from Asia to study in Australia between the 1950s and 80s.
Unlike the original plan, the new version will be a “two-way street” which will allow Australians to study in the Asia-Pacific region.
University of Ballarat vice chancellor and Regional Universities Network chair David Battersby said regional students should benefit from the program.
“Australian students would benefit from studying and working in the Asia-Pacific and bringing back their experience to work as professionals in the regions,” he said.
“Regional universities and their communities would benefit from more international students studying in the regions and facilitating further cultural development and exchange in regional Australia.”
If it goes ahead, scholarships will be awarded to applicants under 22 years of age who are completing an undergraduate degree.
Applicants will undertake one or two semesters of study toward their degree at a university in the Asia-Pacific region.
The plan is expected to be up and running by 2015, should the Coalition win government, with a pilot program to involve Hong Kong, Indonesia and Japan.
“Regional universities should be full participants in any new Colombo Plan should the Coalition win government,” Professor Battersby said.