Aid to study in Asia

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Scholarships - Derek Parker

ONE of the most sought- af­ter schol­ar­ships for stu­dents look­ing to study over­seas is the En­deav­our Aus­tralia Che­ung Kong Awards. The schol­ar­ship pro­gram is ad­min­is­tered by the fed­eral De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, Science and Train­ing, which has a five- year spon­sor­ship agree­ment with the Che­ung Kong Group, a Hong Kong- based prop­erty and in­vest­ment con­glom­er­ate known for its phil­an­thropic ac­tiv­i­ties.

Un­der the agree­ment, the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment and the Che­ung Kong Group have each con­trib­uted $ 3.75 mil­lion in fund­ing over five years, start­ing in 2004- 05.

The money is to sup­port about 860 un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents in in­sti­tu­tion- to- in­sti­tu­tion stu­dent ex­change pro­grams, and fund about 130 post­grad­u­ate and post­doc­toral re­search fel­low­ships.

Half of the awards are avail­able to Aus­tralians un­der­tak­ing study or re­search in Asia and half to Asian schol­ars do­ing the same in Aus­tralia.

A re­quire­ment of the Che­ung Kong Group is that two- thirds of the awards are al­lo­cated to China ( in­clud­ing Hong Kong).

‘‘ This is the only pub­lic- private part­ner­ship of­fer­ing schol­ar­ships of this type in Aus­tralia, al­though they are more com­mon over­seas,’’ says He­len Thompson, co- or­di­na­tor of the pro­gram in Aus­tralia.

‘‘ A motto of the Che­ung Kong Group is ‘ learn­ing has no bound­aries’, and that is the prin­ci­ple that un­der­lies the pro­gram. It is about break­ing down the bar­ri­ers be­tween cul­tures, giv­ing young peo­ple a greater level of in­sight as a part of their study.’’

Un­der the pro­gram, to date Aus­tralian stu­dents have stud­ied in Asian in­sti­tu­tions as var­ied as Ky­oto Univer­sity in Ja­pan, the Hong Kong In­sti­tute of Ed­u­ca­tion, the Na­tional Geo­phys­i­cal Re­search In­sti­tute in In­dia, and Nong Lam Univer­sity in Viet­nam.

The fel­low­ships are de­signed fi­nan­cial sup­port for post­grad­u­ate to pro­vide stu­dents to un­der­take short- term re­search ( up to six months), and are avail­able to Aus­tralians stu­dents study­ing in Asia and Asian stu­dents study­ing in Aus­tralia. While the na­ture of the re­search is not spec­i­fied by the pro­gram, the project should help the de­vel­op­ment of the so­cial and eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ments of the re­gion.

For ex­am­ple, in 2007 Aus­tralian post­grad­u­ate awardees re­searched men­tal health, in­ter­re­li­gious vi­o­lence and lit­er­ary trans­la­tion.

Thompson, who has com­piled the sto­ries of awardees into a book­let, notes that lan­guage dif­fer­ences have not been an ob­sta­cle for Aus­tralian stu­dents in the pro­gram.

‘‘ Ac­cord­ing to the feed­back we have re­ceived, the stu­dents have not found many prob­lems,’’ she says.

‘‘ They have per­formed well aca­dem­i­cally, and the ex­pe­ri­ence has helped them when they re­turned to Aus­tralia.

‘‘ But many of them have said that they have learned as much from gen­er­ally be­ing in a dif­fer­ent cul­ture as from the ac­tual univer­sity ex­pe­ri­ence. Ev­ery story speaks vol­umes.’’ Up to 21 awards will be of­fered in 2008. Eight will go to Aus­tralian stu­dents to un­der­take re­search in China and Hong Kong, and three for stu­dents to un­der­take re­search in In­dia, In­done­sia, South Korea, Malaysia, Sin­ga­pore, Thai­land and Viet­nam.

Un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents can ap­ply for an En­deav­our Aus­tralia Che­ung Kong Award through the schol­ar­ships of­fice of their univer­sity.

Post­grad­u­ate stu­dents should ap­ply us­ing an on­line form through the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, Science and Train­ing web­site at:

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