A group of UNSW Arts & Social Sciences students have attended a three-week intensive course at O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) in India as part of the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant Scholarship. Current Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education (Secondary) student Ellise Camilleri participated in this opportunity over the 2019-20 summer break prior to the start of Term 1 and received six units of credit (equal to one course) for her involvement in the program.

The New Colombo Plan (NCP) is a signature initiative of the Australian Government which aims to improve knowledge of the Indo Pacific in Australia by supporting Australian undergraduate students to study and undertake internships in the region. Grants are designed to support Australian undergraduate students to participate in an exchange to Asia.

Ellise found out about the opportunity in the UNSW Arts & Social Sciences student newsletter and has always had the aspiration to go on student exchange.

“This short exchange was perfect. To apply, all I had to do is write a letter as to why I thought I should go and how it’s a great experience.”

Ellise thought this student exchange experience would be valuable to her future by providing her firsthand knowledge of different cultures worldwide.

“It was an amazing opportunity to learn something new with my peers.”

During the exchange, various Arts & Social Sciences students participated in the experience along with two other students from UNSW’s Business and Science faculties. The group was made up of students with an interest in social sciences, the history of India, and the politics and relations between surrounding countries.

UNSW Arts & Social Sciences Associate Dean (International), Professor Marc Williams, attended the exchange to mentor the students. Other Australian universities were also involved allowing current UNSW students to make meaningful connections and friends.

“The scholarship pays for your tuition, accommodation and tours. I was only responsible for paying visas, flights and any extra spending money. The entire trip was very well-organised” explains Ellise.

“Some students stayed and travelled to places like Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan and Thailand.”

Throughout the course, students learned about various subjects including social sciences; Indian history; Indian politics and their relationship with regional neighbours; issues within society; and the role of women, how that’s changing and its impact on the economy. During their social hours, UNSW students competed and won a Bollywood dancing competition among students from other Australian universities participating in the program. This was themed as a fun cultural night, where students had to create a dance from their own background.

Participating students also had the opportunity to visit the Taj mahal as part of their experience.

“The Taj Mahal is one of those attractions you see all the time and seeing it during my exchange was an overwhelming experience and it exceeded all of my expectations, it was really mesmerising” says Ellise.

Volunteer Indian students helped exchange students along their tour, providing them with valuable information about India’s tourist attractions.

“The volunteers were super keen to answer all our questions.”


“Just go for it, it was such an eye-opening experience. India is very different to Australia in the way they study at universities. It’s a very unique experience and I learned a lot about myself and how other people view the world. It’s worth giving it a go, and you’re supported financially. It was a great experience,” says Ellise.

Ellise is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education (Secondary) degree and her career aspiration is to become a history teacher.