Student is Fiji-bound on New Colombo Plan fellowship

1 December 2015
UQ's 2016 New Colombo Plan scholars: from left, Patrick Walsh, Isaac Bennett, Professor Monique Skidmore, Samuel Bullen, UQ's new Chancellor Peter Varghese, Foreign MInister Julie Bishop, Chloe Yap, Carmen Garratt, Lachlan Kenway and UQ Adjunct Research Professor Ian Kemish.

University of Queensland student Patrick Walsh was last night named the New Colombo Plan 2016 Fiji Fellow.

Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop made the announcement at a ceremony in Canberra.

Mr Walsh, 22, is one of seven UQ undergraduate students to receive New Colombo Plan scholarships in this round, with other recipients heading to Indonesia, Singapore, Japan and South Korea.

UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International) Monique Skidmore said the New Colombo Plan Scholarship Program recognised academic excellence, leadership potential and community engagement.

“It provides opportunities for Australian undergraduates to undertake semester-based study and internships or mentorships in Indo-Pacific countries,” Professor Skidmore said.The New Colombo Plan is an important diplomatic initiative that enables students to contribute and participate as members of the global community.

“The program encourages people-to-people links with Australia’s neighbouring countries and empowers students to gain the global competencies and networks that are in high demand from employers.”

“Seven of the 10 UQ students nominated were chosen to receive the scholarship due to their exceptional academic and leadership qualities.

“Their global focus and drive exemplifies UQ’s vision of creating change – in our students and in our world.”

Mr Walsh is studying towards a UQ Bachelor of Science and Arts, and will study at The University of South Pacific in Fiji.

He said he would undertake an internship in public health or community development during his time there.

"I chose Fiji as I wanted to get an understanding of the Pacific Islands and get to know a region that, in my opinion, is often neglected from political conversations," Mr Walsh said.

“I hope to use my exchange to contribute to cross-cultural understanding with Australia's immediate neighbours and to ultimately contribute, in a small way, to Australia's involvement in these regions."

Mr Walsh spent eight months in Malawi as a volunteer teacher before starting his university studies.

“My time in Malawi taught me that there is no substitute for real-life experience and I feel the same way about my education in Fijian culture,” he said.

"I am most looking forward to learning about the history and culture of this region.

“I hope that I return feeling empowered to contribute to the future direction of our nation."

Mr Walsh has been a teacher’s aide and mentor to students excluded from mainstream classrooms, a Peer Assisted Study Session Leader at UQ and a Residential Advisor for Emmanuel College at UQ.

He has received a UQ Excellence Scholarship and an Emmanuel College scholarship.

UQ’s other 2016 New Colombo scholarship recipients and their host locations are:

  • Isaac Bennett, Bachelor of International Studies, Universitas Gadjah Madah (Indonesia)
  • Samuel Bullen, Bachelor of Laws/Economics, National University of Singapore (Singapore)
  • Carmen Garratt, Bachelor of International Studies, Korea University (Republic of Korea)
  • Lachlan Kenway, Bachelor of International Studies, Waseda University (Japan)
  • Talia Rose, Bachelor of Engineering/Science, National University of Singapore (Singapore)
  • Chloe Yap, Bachelor of Science, National University of Singapore (Singapore)

Media: Dr Jessica Gallagher,, +61 7 3346 7869; Melanie Martin,, +61 7 3346 0665.