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USC projects to open global opportunities

From mapping flora and fauna in the heart of Borneo to assessing the impact of solar power in the slums of India, more than 150 USC students will soon gain valuable work and study experiences in the Indo-Pacific region.

The University has secured almost $600,000 in funding from the Australian Government’s 2019 New Colombo Plan Mobility Program to help USC students participate in a range of short-term overseas projects.

The recipients include 15 final-year Urban Design and Town Planning students who will take part in a three-week study tour to assess the sustainable energy needs of people living in poverty in urban areas of northern India.

Senior Lecturer Dr Nick Stevens, who will lead the tour, said students would evaluate the improvements that products such as solar lanterns, solar fans and water filters could make to air quality, lighting, safety and general wellbeing in these marginalised communities.

“The students will gain important new perspectives on four years of study in infrastructure development, community planning, cultural heritage and urban design,” he said of the experience in India that will be similar to one offered earlier this year.

“To be able to reflect on their study in a very different social, political, economic and environmental context is so valuable for their learning and future careers as planners.”

Twelve USC projects in countries including Korea, Vanuatu, Indonesia, Japan, Cambodia, Nepal, Fiji, Borneo and Taiwan have been funded in the latest round of the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grants.

The Federal Government initiative aims to deepen Australia’s relationships in the Indo-Pacific region by encouraging a two-way flow of students and links with universities and business.

USC Pro Vice-Chancellor (International and Quality) Professor Robert Elliot said the projects would provide extraordinary study and work opportunities for 156 USC students in 2019.

“Students can increase their cultural awareness, deepen their understanding of the neighbouring region, expand their knowledge and gain important new skills,” he said.

Many of the USC projects are aimed at making a positive difference to the overseas communities involved.

Environmental Science students, led by Head of USC’s Engineering and Science School Professor David Young, will travel to Brunei Darussalam on the island of Borneo to map flora and fauna to determine how climate change is affecting island communities.

Other students will work with rural communities in Vanuatu and Fiji also impacted by changing climates, while USC Occupational Therapy and Nutrition students will undertake work placements in Vanuatu to support people with diabetes.

Ongoing funding has been provided for USC’s Nursing Science students for clinical placements aimed at improving the health of villagers in remote parts of the Indonesian island of Java.

— Clare McKay

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