The 'New Colombo plan' by the Australian government will be launched as a pilot programme in 2014 to test the business models in four destinations: Indonesia, Singapore, Honk Kong and Japan. Australian government said that it hoped a partnership in relation to that with India could be developed soon.

"We are holding a pilot in four destinations in Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan in 2014. Thereafter, we will be inviting other countries to join into the New Colombo Plan and I hope Australia and India are able to conclude a partnership in relationship to that as soon as possible, sometime beyond 2015," Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was quoted.

Bishop said that Australia was determined to take the relationship further with India and education was a key to that relationship. Describing the new and a signature policy, she said that the New Colombo Plan would be different from the original Colombo Plan which ran between 1950s and 1980s and had brought over 40,000 young people from the region to study in Australian institutions.

"Our new plan is in reverse. We propose to offer Australian university students, our undergraduate students, the opportunity to study in regional universities, and undertake internships with companies that are operating in the host country," she said.

"So sending our young people, our best and brightest, into the region will build our Indo-Pacific literacy, boost our innovation, and build ties with the regional leaders of the future," she added.

"We're pleased that this is also a priority for India, as reflected in the Indian Government's new Connect to India programme. On our New Colombo plan there will be a test or pilot next year in 2014 and thereafter we hope that India will become a part of Australia's New Colombo Plan so that we can send our young people to study in your universities," she said recently on her visit to Mumbai.

"Of course we will continue to welcome Indian students to Australia,'' she adding that India was still the second largest source of international students for Australia.


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