Colombo Plan

The Colombo Plan was a post-colonial initiative launched in 1951, initially by seven Commonwealth nations, to boost Asian economic and social development through economic and technical assistance. One of eight Australian institutions participating in the scheme, the University of Tasmania welcomed overseas students from 1951, and their input helped reshape Tasmanian culture through exposure to different perspectives. Colombo Plan scholars lived with local families, spoke at service club meetings, worked in vacation jobs, joined the Overseas Students Association and participated in sports such as soccer, table tennis and badminton. Numerically predominant, the Malaysian students formed their own society in 1963. The University's first two women Engineering graduates were both Indonesian students. Though students were few in number they made a substantial impact, both locally and in their home countries. Since the scheme was superseded in the 1980s, the international education industry has expanded exponentially.

Further reading: A Alexander, Students first, Sandy Bay, 1999; G Sauer (ed), The Colombo Plan for cooperative economic development in South and South East Asia, 19512001, Panorama, South Australia, 2001.

Wendy Rimon