Bill's Media Releases

Grants to encourage study trips to Asia

The Gillard Government has unveiled a new AsiaBound study grants program to encourage students to gain firsthand experience of Asia.

The Member for Maribyrnong, Bill Shorten, has urged students in Melbourne’s North West to apply for the grants and strengthen their engagement with Asian culture.

The $37 million AsiaBound Grants Program will offer grants to 10,000 Australian students of between $2000 and $5000 for students undertaking short or semester length study exchanges, and $1000 grants for preparatory Asian language study.

Thousands more Australian students will benefit from the broadening and simplification of the eligibility for the Commonwealth’s OS-HELP loan scheme. More students will have access to increased loan amounts, as well as an extra $1000 for intensive language training.

Mr Shorten said study in Asia would give students from the Maribyrnong electorate the chance to build lifelong professional networks and friendships.

“We already have close links to Asia in Melbourne’s North West. For example, 6.8% of people in my electorate have Vietnamese ancestry, compared to 1.2% for the whole of Victoria,” Mr Shorten said.

“We have over 12,000 Vietnamese speakers and nearly 3,000 Cantonese speakers, according to latest census figures.

“I believe that skills like these, and the understanding of different cultures that comes with living and working in such a diverse region, give us a head start in engaging with other parts of the world,” Mr Shorten said.

“Our Asian Century White Paper sets out our desire for closer engagement with Asia, and these study grants will help to encourage students from all backgrounds to study Asian languages and immerse themselves in Asian culture as part of their studies.”

Mr Shorten said he had recently seen firsthand the opportunities in Asia, after leading a business and union delegation to Myanmar just over a week ago.

“While in Myanmar I was lucky enough to meet with President Thein Sein and the Leader of the National League for Democracy Aung San Suu Kyi, and discuss with them labour rights, human rights, trade and investment, and how Australia can support Myanmar’s ongoing political, social and economic reform.

“I believe there is an enormous opportunity for us to be part of their future, and the future of other emerging nations in the region,” Mr Shorten said.

“I would urge young people throughout Moonee Valley, Maribyrnong and Brimbank to consider how they can be part of the Asian Century, and consider applying for an AsiaBound study grant.

“There is no better way to become Asia literate than to experience Asia directly.”

Background:

The maximum OS-HELP loan amount for students undertaking study in Asia will increase by $1,250 to $7,500 in 2014 and eligibility will be opened to postgraduate students in Commonwealth supported places.

An additional $1000 loan will be available to pay for intensive Asian language training prior to a student’s study abroad opportunity, and students will no longer need to be enrolled at an overseas higher education institution. Instead, they can undertake clinical placements or other study programs that contribute to their Australian university course.

Changes to the study load requirement will give more students approaching the end of their degree access to OS-HELP loans.

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Suburbs in the Maribyrnong electorate include: Aberfeldie, Airport West, Albion, Avondale Heights, Brooklyn (part), Essendon, Essendon North, Essendon West, Kealba, Keilor East, Keilor Park, Maribyrnong (part), Moonee Ponds, Niddrie, St Albans (part), Sunshine, Sunshine North and Tullamarine (part).

Media Contact:

Jayne Edwards 0410 455 737

Kieran Barns-Jenkins  9326 1300 

Twitter: @AsiaBound