Murdoch student awarded New Colombo Plan scholarship

December 12, 2014

New Colombo Plan 2015 Indonesia Scholar Hannah Pratt receives her certificate from Foreign Minister Bishop

New Colombo Plan 2015 Indonesia Scholar Hannah Pratt receives her certificate from Foreign Minister Bishop

Murdoch University student Hannah Pratt went up against more than 200 Australian students to secure one of just 60 scholarships to study overseas through the Federal Government’s New Colombo Plan Scholarship Program.

Ms Pratt, who is studying a double degree in Economics and Asian Studies, will use her scholarship to spend one year at University Gadjah Mada (UGM) in Yogyakarta in Indonesia in 2015 studying Indonesian language and culture through an Australian Consortium for 'In-Country' Indonesian Studies (ACICIS) flexible immersion program.

“I have always had a strong interest in the diverse cultures of the Asian region, and am incredibly excited to have the opportunity to go and live in Indonesia for a year,” she said.

“I had already planned to undertake six months of study at UGM through ACICIS before I had any inkling I was to be nominated for the scholarship, but this program will help me develop my Indonesian language skills and do some preliminary research in preparation for my economics honours thesis in in 2016.

“I know that I want to combine my Asian Studies degree and my economics degree and I have a passion for environmental issues, so was thinking of looking into the long run costs of mangrove deforestation in parts of Indonesia. Even if this particular idea doesn’t play out, I would love to centre my research around Indonesia as it is so close to Australia, yet in many ways so different to our society and as such offers so much for us to learn.”

Murdoch’s Outbound Student Mobility team supported Ms Pratt through the administrative side of the scholarship process that saw her develop and present a formal proposal to an interview panel in Canberra.

During her interview, Ms Pratt discussed how she would use her scholarship funding to strengthen ties with an international institution, in addition to demonstrating consistently strong academic performance and community leadership.

“The process was very intense and there were times I was questioning whether I’d make it through,” Ms Pratt said.

“The panel asked each applicant 12 official questions while the stenographer recorded it all – an exciting first experience for me!

“I have to admit however that as it was the middle of exams and there is a three hour time difference, I was a little sleep deprived while I was over there, but this along with the excitement of it all has made it an experience I’ll never forget."

Professor David Hill, Chair of the South East Asian Studies Program at Murdoch and Consortium Director of ACICIS congratulated Ms Pratt on her scholarship.

“It’s a highly competitive, rigorous and very stressful process for students applying for these scholarships, and Ms Pratt should be extremely proud of what she’s achieved,” he said.

“In addition, it can be an exceptionally complex process for students to navigate the academic, bureaucratic, and immigration processes in Indonesia.

“However, ACICIS overcomes that, by supporting students through the unfamiliar Indonesian system, ensuring they get the most out of their international studies, and most importantly get the opportunity to build valuable relationships with one of our key partners in the Asia-Pacific region. I’m thrilled we can support Ms Pratt through her journey.”

ACICIS is a non-profit consortium of 23 universities, hosted by Murdoch University that was established in 1995 to help Australian students study in Indonesian universities.

Ms Pratt initially chose to study through ACICIS due to its location at Murdoch University and the consortium’s good working relationships with universities in Indonesia.

“After being nominated for the scholarship, I realised that studying in Indonesia for a longer period of time would give me the opportunity to really get a grip on the language, make connections with people who have similar research interests, and experience living in another country for a whole year,” she said.

“The ACICIS program made this possible as they offer amazing support for students wanting to study in Indonesia which is especially important as it is quite a difficult thing to organise privately.”

“I can’t thank the Outbound Mobility team enough for helping me through the application process for a New Colombo Plan scholarship, and of course my sincere thanks to Professor Hill for encouraging me to pursue a longer placement in Indonesia.”

Image credit: Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)

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