as a student or host

What is the New Colombo Plan?

The New Colombo Plan is a signature initiative of the Australian Government which aims to lift knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia by supporting Australian undergraduates to study and undertake internships in the region.

It encourages a two-way flow of students between Australia and the rest of our region, complementing the thousands of students from the region coming to Australia to study each year.

The New Colombo Plan is intended to be transformational, deepening Australia's relationships in the region, both at the individual level and through expanding university, business and other links.

Over time, the Australian Government wants to see study in the Indo-Pacific region become a rite of passage for Australian undergraduate students, and as an endeavour that is highly valued across the Australian community.


 Launch of the New Colombo Plan in Thailand

The New Colombo Plan was launched in Thailand in 2015. Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs The Hon Julie Bishop MP and then-Thai Foreign Minister General Tanasak Patimapragorn presided over the launch at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand on 8 May 2015. Read the speech by the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs The Hon Julie Bishop MP at launch.


 Launch of the New Colombo Plan in Thailand

Australian Foreign Minister the Hon Julie Bishop MP launched the New Colombo Plan in Thailand on 8 May 2015.



Meet the New Colombo Plan students in Thailand

David Coleman

“My experiences so far from studying under the New Colombo Plan Scholarship Scheme have been overwhelmingly exciting and rewarding. The scheme has opened up opportunities that I never knew existed and places that I never thought I would visit, let alone incorporate into my life.

“I trust that I am one of many future students who choose to study in Thailand under the scheme. I believe the scheme is symbolic of developing another aspect to the strong business and tourism Australia-Thai relationships – that of education. There are more Thai students studying abroad in Australia than America. It is fitting that more Australian students start to choose such a fantastic destination as Thailand; I could not recommend it more.”


Grace Blake

"As a digital artist, I am interested in the way that people engage with technology and Thais are one of the biggest internet users in the region. I also aimed to work through a project proposal that examined the parallel experiences of the jungle or forest and internet ecologies, so Thailand seemed like a fantastic base to start this research. I was hoping to find a faculty with a interesting perspective on media arts education and I definitely found that with media arts at Chiang Mai Univeristy. It was also a country I had decided I could live with my family."


  AAgrace monk thumbnail.jpg

Kyle Gasser

“The experience has been really amazing. What impresses me the most is the students’ ability to interpret what I try to say even though we have a very limited vocal communication but they can still connect with me through other means such as body language and they can understand me and what I need to say. Without the New Colombo Plan grant, I would not be able to come to Thailand. I cannot thank the government enough for the experience”,

New Colombo Plan mobility student Kyle Gasser spoke of his teaching experience in Thailand.

Asher Taccori

"I'm in the field of nutrition and public health, so having an internship at the World Food Programme is incredibly relevant. I've always wanted to work in an international context, so for me it's a perfect gateway. It's been perfect for me to be here learning from very experienced people in the field and building connections for when I graduate."

Thai alumni of the Australian Colombo Plan

The Colombo Plan was launched formally in 1951 by seven founding Commonwealth nations, including Australia. Thailand joined the plan in 1954. The Colombo Plan Scholarship’s fundamental aim was to train young students from Asia in skills that would enable them to play leading roles in the social, economic and political development of their respective nations.

From 1950 to 1985, some 40,000 people from Asia came to study in Australia under the Colombo Plan, developing links that have lasted generations.

In 1954, the Australian Government began to provide Thai students with the opportunity to study in Australia with a Colombo Plan scholarship. By 1989, over 450 Thai students had studied in Australia with a Colombo Plan scholarship and their experiences were important in fostering enduring friendships and understanding between Australia and Thailand.

Many of Colombo Plan alumni have occupied senior positions in government, in business and other sectors of society throughout the region.

Thai Colombo Plan alumni have not only pioneered overseas education but also added enormously to bilateral ties between our two countries.

Memorable photos of Thai students who received Colombo Plan scholarship to study in Australia. Courtesy of the Colombo Plan alumni

“Two Thai students make outstanding achievements in Australia, graduating with honours” was the headline of a Thai newspaper in 1974 and an example of the reputation Thai Colombo Plan Scholarship students made as national representatives in Australia.

Professor Pasuk Pongpaichit,

a famous Thai economist and a Colombo Plan scholarship student at Monash University during 1965-1971 said “The Colombo Plan scholarship gave me and several other people opportunities to change our lives to become quality taskforces to help develop Thailand. I am a product of the Australian education system.”

“My impression of Australia is that civilians have political roles and are able to call for their government to move forward with polices that respond to their needs,” she added.


Dr Sirikorn Maneerin

Former Deputy Minister for Education and Colombo Plan student at University of Sydney during 1970- 1973 recalled her first long-distance journey,

“Parents in the old days rarely allowed daughters to travel far from home, so I was excited to receive a Colombo Plan scholarship. I matured my thinking and learnt to be responsible for myself, which is a significant foundation for life. I was impressed with the Australian lifestyle which bonded with nature. Australians are half-Asian and they are friendly. Later when I worked at the Education Ministry, I also had an opportunity to establish vocational
education collaboration between Australia and Thailand.”

Professor Dr Pichai Taneerananon

an academic at the Department of Civil engineering, Prince of Songkla University, and winner of Prime Minister Road Safety Awards 2010, was a Colombo Plan Scholarship student at the University of Western
Australia in 1968-1972. He said that this scholarship changed his life.

“It was not easy leaving home for an overseas adventure in the 1960s, but the Australian Government took good care of us. I remembered that they sent a black Commonwealth limousine to take us to meet with Australian families wishing to get to know Asians as there were not many Asians there in that time. The families, mostly elderly, were very kind to us.”

“A message I want to pass on to Thai students is that studying abroad is a golden opportunity. You should be open-minded to both positive and negative things and learn from them,” he added.

Assistant Professor Dr Preecha Teansomprasong,

an academic at the Department of Applied Physics, King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, and a Colombo Plan Scholarship student at James Cook University during 1982-1985, still cherishes the kindness of his Australian host family.

“I had dengue fever when I was there and the Australian family I lived with took very good care of me. We are still in contact nowadays and they also came to Thailand for volunteer works at hospitals and schools after their retirement”.