Today I am pleased to announce that all ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to participate in the New Colombo Plan from 2015.

A pilot phase of the New Colombo Plan commenced in January 2014 and included two ASEAN members – Indonesia and Singapore – along with two other pilot locations, Japan and Hong Kong.

More than 1300 Australian undergraduate students are being supported to study in the region under the New Colombo Plan’s pilot phase, and over half are heading to Southeast Asian learning institutions.

Given the long history of cooperation and close ties between ASEAN members, it is appropriate that young Australianswill now have greater opportunities to learn from our Southeast Asian neighbours. There are many world class and emerging universities in Southeast Asia, and Australian universities and undergraduates will increasingly build linkages with them.

From the 1950s to the mid-1980s, the original Colombo Plan brought tens of thousands of students from Southeast Asia to train and study in Australia. Today, the Australian Government wants to encourage a new generation of Australians to experience more regional cultures, languages, and ways of doing business through the New Colombo Plan.

The Australian Government has announced $100 million over five years of funding for the New Colombo Plan.

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