The New Colombo Plan Mobility Program

Applications for the 2024 Round are now open (Closing 28 August 2023)

The New Colombo Plan Mobility Program offers financial support to Australian universities and consortia in facilitating opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in semester-long or short-term study, internships, mentorships, practicums, and research projects across 40 locations in the Indo-Pacific region. This information is specifically intended for Western Sydney University staff who are keen on designing Learning Abroad initiatives for their students, with the added benefit of NCP funding.

1. General Information

Strategic objective and outcomes of the NCP

The NCP, launched in 2014, aims to lift knowledge in Australia of the Indo-Pacific by supporting Australian undergraduates to study and undertake Internships in the region. The NCP has two programs: scholarships (for study up to 19 months) and mobility grants (for short and longer-term study). Both programs prioritise Internships, Mentorships and Language Training. DFAT administers the NCP according to the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines (CGRGs).

The Strategic Objective of the NCP is to strengthen Australia’s regional standing by building a diverse cohort of Australian alumni with deeper Indo-Pacific knowledge, capability and connections. The intended outcomes of the NCP are:

  • (a) increase the number and diversity of Australian university undergraduates with Indo-Pacific capability
  • (b) deepen people-to-people and institutional relationships between Australia and the Indo-Pacific region, and
  • (c) Students and alumni connected with leaders in government, business and civil society in the Indo-PacificAbout the NCP Mobility Program grant opportunity
  • The NCP Mobility Program provides funding to Australian universities to deliver Mobility Projects that
    provide Australian university students with Indo-Pacific mobility experiences.

Types of  Mobility Projects

A mobility project can include one or more of the following elements:

  • Semester studies
  • Short-term studies
  • Study tours
  • Internship / Mentorship
  • Clinical Placement
  • Practicum
  • In - Country Language Study
  • Artist Residency
  • Research

A simple example would be 10 undergraduate students travel to a partner institution in Taiwan (they must be Australian citizens). During their 6 week stay, they study robotics, Chinese language, participate in industry visits and internships. During the visit the students engage in cultural activities and develop very strong connections with local government, businesses and the community. The opportunity may be led by a Western staff member in cooperation with the overseas institution and partners.

Student grants

Applicants should only seek mobility grants for the number of students they reasonably expect to send offshore during the mobility program term (1 January 2024 to 31 December 2025). Universities' past performance in using all student grants offered may be considered in the allocation of 2024 funding.

The amount of a student grant should accurately reflect the actual expenses incurred at specific locations, taking into account factors such as differences in the cost of living between host locations. We propose the following as indicative amounts for student grants:

  • up to $3,000 for participation in a mobility project of at least 2 weeks
  • up to $4,000 for participation in a mobility project of at least 4 weeks
  • up to $5,000 for participation in a mobility project of at least 6 weeks
  • up to $10,000 for participation in a mobility project of at least one semester
  • up to $20,000 for participation in a mobility project of two consecutive semesters

The actual amount of the student grant may vary depending on factors such as the relative costs of the host location, the nature of the mobility project, and other relevant considerations. For example, additional travel expenses incurred by regional and remote students or efforts to enhance accessibility for students with disabilities may be taken into account.

It is acceptable to utilize funding for student grants to arrange group travel, rather than directly disbursing all the funds to individual students, if there are benefits for the students, such as discounts through group bookings. However, in such cases, students must provide written consent acknowledging that a portion of their mobility grant will not be paid directly to them, and evidence of this consent must be retained.

For grants amounting to $5,000 or more, it is permissible to distribute the grant in installments as determined by the responsible party.

Funding designated for student grants must not be utilised for administration costs.

Grant Period and Duration

The minimum duration of a mobility project is 14 continuous days (from the date of departure to the host location to the date of return to Australia from that host location).

The maximum program duration is two consecutive semesters.

Participating students must commence travel during the mobility program term (1 January 2024 to 31 December 2025).

Administration Funding

Administrative funding is calculated at 10% of the total grant funding sought.

  • Half is retained by Western Sydney International for the employment of a central resource to ensure compliance with policies and procedures, the distribution of funds, monitoring expenditure and the collection of accurate information for Government reporting. The person also provide advice and support for staff engaged in the delivery of New Colombo Plan Mobility projects. For further information see NCP Administration - For Project Leaders (opens in a new window).
  • The other half of the Administration funding is given to project leaders for administration of the program, including but not limited to:
    • Arranging, negotiating and researching information related to the overseas activity
    • Supervising, monitoring and evaluating students' progress
    • Engaging the services of third party organisations which have relevant expertise to support students to undertake the mobility project
    • General administration costs including staff flights and accommodation

Project Eligibility

Australian universities can apply for funding for Mobility projects that meet the following criteria:

  • a) include at least one of the following components:
    • (i) study
    • (ii) in-country face-to-face language study
    • (iii) internships (including clinical placements, practicums or artist residencies), or
    • (iv) research
  • b) take place between 1 January 2024 – 31 December 2025
  • c) provide credit/count towards the course requirements for the relevant student's Bachelor
    degree, Bachelor honours degree or concurrent diploma at their Australian university
  • be undertaken in an eligible host location
  • must not be undertaken at an offshore campus of an Australian university or a university
    established or headquartered outside the host location, unless approved by DFAT
  • f) must not breach DFAT’s safeguard principles as outlined in DFAT’s Environmental and Social Safeguard Policy 2019.

If a mobility project includes activities focused on scientific exchange or research, the home and host institutions/organisations should become familiar with Australia’s export control regimes.

Similarly, theGuidelines to Counter Foreign Interference in the Australian University Sectorare foundational elements essential for building resilience within a university in response to foreign interference and should be applied proportionate to the risk at each institution.

Student Eligibility and Requirements

Western Sydney University must ensure each student receiving an NCP grant:

  • a) is an Australian citizen
  • b) is not a citizen or permanent resident of a host location in which they will undertake a mobility project
  • c) is enrolled in an on-shore campus at Western Sydney University and undertaking a bachelor degree or bachelor honours degree for the duration of the mobility project
  • d) will receive credit/count towards the course requirements
  • e) meets the age requirements:
    • at least 70 per cent of students participating in a mobility project and receiving a student grant are aged between 18 to 28 years inclusive at the commencement of the Mobility project.
    • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students do not need to be aged between 18 and 28, and for the purposes of calculating the 70 per cent of students, are to be counted as students aged under age 28, recognising that a high proportion of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students are mature aged students.
  • f) not be an employee of the branch of DFAT that administers the NCP
  • g) does not during the course of their bachelor degree or bachelor honours degree
    • (i) receive more than one student grant for the same mobility project.
    • (ii) receive more than two student grants during the course of their Bachelor Degree or Bachelor Honours Degree
  • h) agrees to comply with DFAT’s Child Protection Policy 2017 and Preventing Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment Policy 2019 including the reporting obligations under these policies, and has completed the Risks and Responsibilities modules of DFAT’s online NCP pre-departure training eLearning,
  • i) has signed an acknowledgement that they have read NCP Student Code of Conduct prior to their departure, and
  • j) takes into account the University Foreign Interference Taskforce - guidelines to Counter Foreign Interference in the Australian University Sector 2019


The Government strongly encourages services to enable and support the participation of a diverse range of students in mobility projects including, but not limited to, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students, students from a low socio-economic status background, students from regional/remote areas, students who are first in their immediate family to attend university, students across genders, female students studying in non-traditional fields, students with a disability, and students from a non-English speaking background. This will help contribute to overall value with money (see Glossary) as per NCP program objective and outcomes

Eligible Host Locations

Mobility Projects may be conducted in the following 40 eligible Indo-Pacific Host Locations: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, New Caledonia, Niue, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam.

Primary locations: A primary location is the host location for which the mobility project is awarded. The majority of the duration of a mobility project must be completed in the primary location.

Secondary locations:  While the Government prefers mobility projects to be conducted in a single host location, in some cases it may be appropriate to undertake a component of a mobility project in a secondary host location. For example:

  • (a) a research project in a primary location, including fieldwork in a secondary location, or
  • (b) a study program in a primary location with an internship in a secondary location.

Any proposal for activities in a secondary location must be included in the application.


When filling out a Project Application, you will be required to consider the following:

  • the number of students participating in the project
  • the cost per student, including breakdown of transport/living costs
  • the average grant amount per student participating in the project (where there are different lengths of experience within the project).
  • The Project Description should also outline the number of students to participate in each mode/length of experience.

See  Section 4, Financial Overview.

Safeguard Principles

Mobility projects must comply with DFAT’s Safeguard Principles as outlined in DFAT’s Environmental and Social Safeguard Policy.

Mobility projects must not cause harm including injury or injustice to any person that a mobility project is intended to engage with or assist, or to their wider communities or environment.

Travel risks and Approval

All funded projects require a project plan and risk assessment. Before implementing an NCP project,  approval is needed from Western Sydney International (WSI) and relevant delegates including the School/Department Dean (or equivalent), the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Research, Enterprise and International) as well as the Vice Chancellor and President.

It is advisable to begin the processes at least 6 to 12 months before departure, and final endorsement must be obtained no later than 100 working days before the departure date. In addition, all students must register their participation on the Go Global Portal. See the Guidelines for Developing a Learning Abroad Program.

Mobility Partnerships

The government promotes the establishment of mobility partnerships with organizations in Australia and the surrounding region to maximize opportunities for students and participating institutions funded by the NCP. These partnerships aim to build connections and foster long-term relationships that align with the goals of the NCP. Examples of such partnerships include:

- Financial sponsorship (in the form of a cash contribution) from private sector organizations.
- Language training offered by community language schools in Australia before and/or after travel.
- In-kind sponsorship, where goods or services are provided free of charge for use in the mobility project, which would otherwise have incurred a fee. This could involve private sector organizations granting students access to resources or learning and development opportunities.

Mobility partnerships should contribute to the achievement of the NCP's strategic objectives. However, contributions from Australian universities, host institutions, or service providers (who are paid a fee for supporting elements of a mobility project) cannot be included.

Applicants are required to identify the local host institutions in the host locations that will serve as their project partners. It is important to note that third-party providers are not considered NCP project partners, as they are compensated for their involvement.

Applicants must exercise due diligence when selecting partners, which includes assessing their partners' ability to comply with NCP Guidelines. This may involve evaluating their risk management processes.

Applicants should also consider the impact of their projects on local communities. For instance, paying to volunteer can lead to demand-driven activities in disadvantaged communities. Applicants planning to volunteer overseas should refer to the Smartraveller advice on responsible volunteering.

Applicants must demonstrate that their partners and any third-party providers have appropriate policies and systems in place to adhere to DFAT policies (as outlined in the Guidelines), manage risks, and actively minimize adverse incidents.

Find out more about International Partnerships at Western Sydney University.

Use of Third-Party Providers

Universities may choose to outsource all or part of project implementation to third party providers. Where this is the case, that relationship must be outlined in the Project Description.  The Australian university remains responsible for the project, including adherence to policies outlined in the Guidelines.

Where a third-party provider implements all or part of the project, the Australian university must outline how quality will be assured, how lasting relationships will be established between the Australian university and overseas partners.

Third-party providers are not considered to be NCP partners as they receive payment for their participation. Nor are third-party providers able to be host organisations. If a third-party provider is used to implement the project, a host institution in the host location must still be identified. ISEO now allows for the recording of Third-party providers separately from project partners in funding applications.

Find out more about International Partner Providers at Western Sydney University.

Existing Projects

Applications for further funding for projects funded in previous rounds will be assessed on their merits alongside applications for new projects. Projects which have previously received NCP funding to send students offshore should be well-placed to demonstrate the connections they have been able to develop and maintain as result of past NCP funding.

Where a university has received past funding but have overestimated the number of students who would participate in those projects, DFAT may take this into account in the awarding of new funding.

Before Applying

Applicants should consider:

  1. Does Western Sydney University already have funds from past rounds for the same location and type of experience?
  2. Will you be able to recruit students to fill all places in a new project during the project term (1 January 2024 to 31 December 2025)?
  3. What is your your track record in expending and reporting on previous NCP mobility projects. To assess your application, Western Sydney University and the Australian Government will consider your track record in implementing and reporting on previous NCP mobility projects. A poor track record may lead to your application being disregarded. If you have any concerns or uncertainties, it is advisable to seek further guidance from Western Sydney International (WSI).

2. Assessment and selection

Applications are assessed on their merits. A satisfactory score must be achieved on each selection criterion.

Priority Themes

While NCP mobility projects may focus on any subject, applicants are encouraged to consider projects that establish and support linkages aligned with Australian Government priorities, for example:

  • supporting First Nations engagement with the Indo-Pacific
  • tackling shared challenges in the Indo-Pacific such as climate change, cybersecurity, regional stability, sustainability, First Nations Peoples' issues and economic growth
  • embracing innovation, research and new ways of working, such as clean energy, ecommerce, e-health, transport, manufacturing, technology and engineering
  • building capacity in areas such as education, environmental management, governance, health, human rights, disaster preparedness and disability support transport
  • increasing trade, business and investment opportunities, and post-COVID-19 economic recovery
  • building and reviving arts and cultural links with the region
  • building Australians' capabilities in the languages of the Indo-Pacific

Priority for funding will be given to:

  • projects that demonstrate practical measures to develop and maintain direct, deep and lasting relationships between Australian universities and institutions in the Indo-Pacific and lasting connections between Australian students and academics and their Indo-Pacific counterparts
  • projects that focus on offshore student experiences with longer periods in host location/s e.g. semester-length projects, which may be better able to deepen lasting people-to-people and institutional links with the region (noting that some practicums, for example, are necessarily of short duration)
  • projects that provide immersive offshore experiences, partnering directly with offshore institutions supporting direct interaction with students/academics/businesses from the region (rather than studying alongside students from their own university and/or being hosted by institutions based in Australia or outside the Indo-Pacific region)
  • projects that include an Indo-Pacific language as a major component, either as a field of study and/or through quality offshore courses prior to and/or concurrent with study or placements

The final selection of projects will consider the degree to which proposals advance the NCP's objectives, including:

  • Australian foreign policy considerations
  • the range and diversity of host locations across the program
  • likely impact, with preference given to a longer duration in-country (particularly semester-length) projects
  • relative value for money, particularly comparing applications to similar destinations
  • the university's past performance in using student grants from previous rounds, meeting reporting requirements and accurately estimating student numbers

3. Lessons from previous rounds

Assessors look for evidence to support applicants' claims against the requirements for each criterion.

Applications that scored highly in previous rounds:

  • clearly and concisely addressed all elements of each assessment criterion
  • provided practical examples that demonstrated how the project would advance the NCP strategic objective and outcomes
  • demonstrated direct links that would be established and/or supported between Australian institutions and host institutions in the Indo-Pacific, and how relationships would be sustained beyond NCP funding (for example, through joint projects, reciprocal student/staff mobility, joint delivery of academic programs, joint research/innovation and/or alumni engagement)
  • explained the choice of host location and demonstrated an understanding of the local context (for example, explaining what Australian students will gain by studying/interning in a particular country/location/institution)
  • provided specific, practical examples of how the project would support participation across a diverse range of students (not just referring to university or government policies)

Unsuccessful applications in previous rounds often:

  • lacked specific details about project activities: what will students be doing offshore?
  • did not clearly identify local host institutions with whom the project would partner.
  • lacked detail on how links with the Indo-Pacific (institutional and people-to-people) would be sustained beyond the life of the project.
  • lacked details of how the project would practically support participation of students from a diverse range of backgrounds. Practical examples provide evidence to support claims.
  • were unclear about how the use of third-party providers would help build lasting linkages between Australian and Indo-Pacific institutions, and how these linkages would be sustained beyond NCP funding.
  • contained duplication/repetition across different applications from the same university, or other universities, and/or factual errors.
  • sought to support multiple ill-defined student experiences in one or more host locations.

4. Application Requirements and Selection Criteria

The following content outlines the necessary requirements and Selection Criteria for a project application.

Warning: Exceeding the Word Count Limit May Lead to Application Rejection by the Government System.

Project Title

The project title should be succinct and include the host location, discipline/subject and type of educational activity. For example:

  • Taiwan Business Internships
  • Fiji Marine Science Fieldwork
  • Vanuatu Nursing Practicum
  • Korea Engineering Semester Study

Project Description

While the project description does not contribute to the assessment score, a clear project description will help assessors understand the project's objectives, rationale and approach to implementation, including

  • if (and how) the project supports one or more of the NCP Mobility Program's priority themes, this should be explained in the project description
  • activities students will undertake offshore, including details of any language study (provider and duration)
  • any use of third-party providers in the implementation of the project should be explained
  • project budget (see section below)

Below, you will find the requirements that you will be asked to fulfil when completing a project application.


Maximum 500 words

While the project description does not contribute to the assessment score, a clear project description will help assessors understand the project's objectives, rationale and approach to implementation.

Please provide an overview of the proposed Mobility Project. While this field does not contribute to the project's weighted score, this information helps assessors understand the project’s activities.

Project details

  • Provide a clear and concise description of the offshore activities to be undertaken by participating students, noting the duration/s of offshore experiences
  • If the project includes a secondary host location or institution, please provide the reason
  • If the project is consistent with one or more priority areas (outlined in the Advice to Applicants), please provide explanation

Host institution/s

  • Describe the role/s of the host institution/s such as teaching, arranging fieldwork, hosting interns
  • Describe the institutional linkages which will result from this project
  • Describe how linkages (institutional and people-people) will be sustained beyond the project

Project rationale

  • Explain how the project fits with your university’s strategy for international engagement, consistent with NCP’s strategic objective and outcomes.
  • If the project repeats a previously funded NCP project, describe how the proposed project will build on the achievements of the earlier project

Third Party Providers 

If the project will be implemented through a Third Party Provider (drawing on administration funding or other resources), please name the organisation and the services they will provide

Project budget

Please provide a breakdown of the proposed use of student grants in the project, noting a project may consist of different durationsFor example:Total funding sought for student grants: $A multiplied by x students + $B multiplied by y students = $______NB: an additional 10% is provided for administration funding

  • x students @ 10 weeks offshore:Per student costs:
    • travel costs:
    • living costs:
    • activity costs:
    Total: $A per student (10 weeks offshore)
  • y students @ 2 weeks offshore:Per student costs:
    • travel costs:
    • living costs:
    • activity costs:
    Total: $B per student (2 weeks offshore)

Financial Overview

Although the Financial Overview does not impact the assessment score directly, providing a clear description of the funding will assist assessors in comprehending the project's requirements.

Mobility Grant Value

  • Minimum grant: $3,000
  • While there is no maximum grant, applicants should consider:
    • their ability (considering past performance) to recruit students and utilise all mobility grants within the project term
    • the capacity of host organisation/s to receive/support additional students

Below, you will find the requirements that you will be asked to fulfil when completing a project application.


Proposed Funding Details

Proposed number of students:                  ______

Average grant amount per student:         $______

Sub-total*:                                                          AUTOMATED

Funding sought*:                                             AUTOMATED

*There is no need for you to calculate the Totals manually. The system is automated and will generate the response for you.

Project contributor (Optional)

  • Project contributor:   Home university contribution |Host institution contribution | Mobility Partnership Project partner

Note: Third-party providers are not considered to be NCP partners as they receive payment for their participation. Nor are third-party providers able to be host organisations. If a third-party provider is used to implement the project, a host institution in the host location must still be identified. ISEO now allows for the recording of Third-party providers separately from project partners in funding applications.

  • Contribution type:                                                    Financial | In-kind | Both
  • Partnership status:                                                   New | Existing
  • Years to which contribution applies:                    Year 1 (tick the box)
  • Value of financial contribution for each year:    $ ______
  • Description of in-kind contribution:                        ______
  • Contribution description (200 words):                    ______
  • Project contribution supporting documentation: Upload document

Supporting documentation may be uploaded for project contributions made by the home university, host institution and/or mobility partnership (optional)

Criterion 1: Ensuring a high-quality education experience

Weighting: 30%  (maximum 300 words)

Describe the educational value of the mobility project, including learning outcomes relevant to the courses participating students are undertaking at their home university. What competencies will students develop through this mobility experience? Who will assess students’ academic progress?

Please outline how:
* the academic quality standards of the home university will be applied to the mobility project
* participation will contribute to core learning outcomes of participating students
* increased understanding of host location language (where applicable) and culture will be supported
* the home university will assess the academic performance of participating student

Criterion 2: Deepening people-to-people and institutional linkages with the Indo-Pacific

Weighting: 40% (maximum 300 words)

Describe how the proposed mobility project will:
(a) establish new and/or deepen people-to-people and institutional partnerships in the Indo-Pacific, and
(b) build and sustain these linkages over time.

* Please outline how the project will meet the NCP’s strategic objectives by deepening and sustaining linkages in the region. You should provide practical examples of how the project will enable students, universities, the private sector, community groups, and other stakeholders to develop and sustain partnerships (for example through research collaborations, longer periods in the host location, a focus on language study, and/or advancing a thematic priority outlined in the Advice to Applicants).
* Please outline how institutional and people-to-people linkages will continue and be sustained into the future (after any NCP funding ceases), including detailing any current or planned partnership agreements (such as MoUs).

Criterion 3: Broadening participation and promoting the New Colombo Plan

Weighting: 20% (maximum 300 words)

Describe how the mobility project will support increased participation by a diverse range of Australian students and promote the NCP in Australia and overseas.

Please describe practical steps/initiatives to encourage and support the participation of a diverse range of students in the mobility project.
While your response may reference policies of your institution, it should also provide specific examples of how the project would support participation of students who may not otherwise participate in international mobility experiences.

Criterion 4: Ensuring sound student welfare management in Mobility Projects

Weighting: 10% (maximum 300 words)

Describe how your institution will ensure the safety and welfare of participating students, and manage risks during any disruptive events during the project

Please describe the offshore support available to participating students. Please outline risk management and safety planning and precautions, including the home university’s policies and processes for monitoring and compliance with safeguards principles (including child protection, prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, and environmental and social safeguards) and managing critical incidents.

If third-party providers are to be used, how will the home university ensure that NCP policies relating to risk are adhered to?

5. Applying for NCP Funding

6. Timeline Round 2024

10 July 23WSU Initial Registration Form opens
21 August 23Final deadline to register on ISEO
28 August 23

Final deadline for WSU staff to submit their applications to WSU via ISEO

31 August 23

Final submission to the Australian Government.

2024 Round Applications for NCP Mobility Program closed.

September to OctoberApplications assessed and reviewed by the Australian Government.
November to DecemberFunding decisions formalised and offer to Applicants made by the Australian Government.
31 December 25Completion date for mobility projects

New Projects

Existing Projects