Australian Alumni – Building Cambodia’s Future

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Hundreds of Cambodian alumni of Australian universities are using experiences and skills gained in Australia to boost Cambodia’s social and economic development.

High-achieving alumni were recognised at a recent awards ceremony in Phnom Penh, held by the Australian Alumni Association of Cambodia (AAA-C) and supported by the Australian Embassy.

His Excellency Mak Ngoy, Director General at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, was awarded the Australian Alumnus of the Year Award in recognition of his efforts to improve the quality of higher education in Cambodia.

The Community Leadership Award was received by Ms Tum Sisopheareth, Provincial Coordinator of Room to Read Cambodia, in recognition of her efforts in improving the reading habits of children in Cambodian provinces.

Chang Bunleang, Managing Director and Founder of Brown Coffee, was awarded the Young Leadership Award for his entrepreneurship in Cambodia’s burgeoning coffee industry.

The three award winners all studied at Australia’s world-class universities either through the Australia Awards Scholarships program or privately funded arrangements. The highly successful Australia Awards Scholarship program is an important part of the Australian Government’s strong bilateral partnership with Cambodia.

“The Australia Awards program is a practical example of how our development cooperation program is making a real difference in the lives of Cambodians,” Australian Ambassador Angela Corcoran said.

“Australian scholarships provide a great opportunity for Cambodian students to advance their studies, as well as make lifelong connections with Australia, both professionally and personally,” the Ambassador said.

Under the program, which has been running for more than 20 years, the Australian Government has supported more than 700 dedicated and talented Cambodians to study at Australian universities.

Many of these students have returned to Cambodia and are making significant contributions at the highest levels of government, as well as in communities across Cambodia.

Australian alumni have become ministers, members of parliament, ambassadors, senior officials, CEOs, vice chancellors and community leaders.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Ngoy said, “To be a visionary and practical leader, you need a well-equipped and high quality education. You also need real experience from an advanced economy country. I strongly suggest Australia to advance your studies.”

Sisopheareth encouraged Cambodian students to apply for an Australian Awards scholarship. “Australia excels in creating independently-minded graduates who are able to think critically in a way that contributes to their personal, career and social development,” she said.

As Cambodia’s economy continues to grow, the number of Cambodians who can afford to fund their own study in Australia is growing. Australia’s safety, proximity to Cambodia, existing Cambodian community, and reputation for high quality education outcome all make Australia a popular choice.

Businesses and organisations started by Australian alumni are also employing many Cambodians, which, in turn, is creating economic opportunities and supporting skills development across the country.

Bunleang said that Brown Coffee was established based on the experience his team has from Australia.

“Studying in Australia gave me not only a quality education and professionalism, but also a unique opportunity to experience the rich Asian-European cultural diversity,” he said.

The Australia Awards Scholarship Intake 2018 will be open for applications from 1 February until 30 April 2017. Information, including about how to apply for a scholarship, is available at: www.australiaawardscambodia.org

Students who are interested to study privately in Australia can visit www.studyinaustralia.gov.au for more information.