The New Colombo Plan – A GLPer’s Ticket to their Dreams

Greetings GLPers,

My name’s Michael Kelly, a fellow GLPer studying a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in Entrepreneurship, and a New Colombo Plan (NCP) Scholar in 2017.

I have just landed in Nepal as the NCP’s only Nepali scholar, and one of three scholars from Macquarie Uni, to embark on a year-long trip. Professionally, I’ll be mentoring social entrepreneurs fighting corruption, helping to launch a co-working space in Kathmandu for young social entrepreneurs, and studying at Kathmandu University’s School of Business. Personally, I’d like to enjoy and absorb the culture and further my Buddhist practices, learn to mountaineer, hike to Everest Base Camp and detour to India to explore and watch Australia play some cricket.

2017 Scholars group photo on staircase (2)

Michael at 3-day trip to Canberra to meet with politicians and NCP scholars and alumni, 2017.

The N-C-What?

Have you ever considered studying in Asia? Do you agree the world is moving toward Asia? Do you have aspirations to be a leader in a global environment? Most importantly, have you always wanted to go on exchange but perhaps haven’t been able to because it’s so expensive? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, the NCP is tailor-made for you.

The NCP is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and a project of our Deputy Prime Minister, Julie Bishop. Its aim is to propel Australian students into experiences in the Asia-Pacific region. There is no doubt the world is pivoting towards Asia, and DFAT wants young Australian leaders forging paths and creating connections between our country and the region in as many fields and industries as possible. The NCP has two opportunities available to undergraduate students: NCP Scholarships and NCP Mobility Grants. The program gives students the opportunity to pursue study, internships, mentorships and language training in one of 40 approved DFAT countries chosen for the NCP program.

Certificate - Michael Kelly

Michael receiving scholarship certificate from Deputy Prime Minister, Julie Bishop, 2017.

The NCP Scholarship is a prestigious undergraduate scholarship, and offers you the opportunity to live, study and work in Asia for one year, with major your expenses covered. The NCP Mobility Grant is also worth considering, with significant contributions for a Session of study.

If you are interested in the Mobility Grant, it would be best to visit Macquarie Abroad and talk to them about the opportunities available. The invitation to apply for the NCP Scholarship has already been sent out to Macquarie students who are eligible. If you received this email, I highly recommend you apply.

Tips for the NCP Application

  • Tell a story with your application. Take your reader on a journey.
  • Try to link the selection criteria together with your narrative. Get creative.
  • Study the NCP guidelines Know what the goals of the program are. Know why the government want you to do this. Know why you want to do this.
  • Know why you’ve chosen your host location, university and internship.
  • If you are nominated by Macquarie, use the staff willing to help you!


I decided to apply for the NCP on a whim. I had the grades and I decided it couldn’t hurt to try. Honestly, I didn’t think I was good enough. So, once the email came, it got very real, and there was still much to be done.

Once selected, the next event on the calendar is a trip to Canberra for three days of seminars, training, dinners, politicians, and most importantly, spending time with the other scholars. When I got to the networking dinner on the first night and began to talk to some of the scholars and alumni, that’s when I realised I’d tripped and fell into something special. The other 104 Scholars were some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, all with their own backgrounds and experiences. I felt grateful and awed to be a part of the cohort, and even more so when accepting my award from Julie Bishop in Parliament House.

Since then, planning the program has been a roller coaster. My scholarship was initially awarded for me to travel to Indonesia. After months of logistical headaches in organising my internship and exchange, it all came together a week before my departure date. A day later, DFAT called to tell me there had been issues and I would not be able to enter Indonesia on a study visa. Enter Nepal, and a month of frantic effort to organise what would normally take three. Despite the challenges, it has been rewarding, and for myself personally, overcoming the obstacles has proven to me that I deserve to be a scholar. Living in Nepal itself has been a whole other experience, but I’ll leave that for another post. If you are applying for the NCP, feel free to email me should you have any questions. I am happy to use my limited knowledge where I can!

Written by Michael Kelly, a GLPer and Bachelor of Commerce student.

Michael is a keen writer and has been sharing his experiences on life abroad and spiritual practices through his blog. He aims to showcase the beauty of Nepal, both through pen and lens. To keep up to date on Michael’s time in Nepal, you can follow him on his socials or keep an eye on the GLP blog for another post by Michael in the coming months.

Applications for the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grants for Session 1, 2018 Exchange are now open and closing 17th August. For more information go to the Macquarie Abroad page. To see where you could go click Explore > Where Can I Go? > Semester Exchange Programs > Asia and look for NCP in the description. 



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