Nearly 300 scholarship aspirants on February10 attended an information session in Vientiane following the launch of the 2017 Australia Awards Scholarships for Laos.
The large crowd of attendees at the event, hosted by the Laos Australia Institute, were told that around 30 Australia Awards Scholarships would be offered this year – a similar number to 2016, and with most for post-graduate study.
Australian Embassy representative, Ms Eloise Saif, told the hopeful crowd that the scholarships program had become a central part of Australia’s support for the socio-economic development of Laos over the past 5-6 decades.
In 2017, as Laos and Australia celebrate 65 years of diplomatic relations (1952-2017), there are around 1,500 Australian alumni in the Lao PDR, with the bulk of these having received Australian Government Scholarships to complete university studies down under.
Ms Saif said that priority areas for study included education, human resource development, trade and investment. People with a disability were particularly encouraged to apply, and can be supported with extra English language training.
Mr Bill Pennington, Director of the Laos Australia Institute, said the scholarships would be awarded to the brightest candidates who had relevant work experience and clear visions of what they can and will do upon their return to contribute to the development of Laos.
Ms Vanpheng Southichak and Mr Soukkhongthong Voraphet, Australian alumni of Swinburne University of Technology and Monash University respectively, shared their experiences living and studying in Australia.
Mr Soukkhongthong advised attendees at the information session not to despair if they were not successful this year but to keep applying.
“I had applied for the Australian Awards Scholarship three times in ten years. I knew if I didn’t give up and focused on improving myself to be ready for the scholarship, I would succeed,” Mr Soukkhongthong said.
Ms Soytavanh Mienmany, an awardee from 2016 who is currently studying English at Vientiane College, enthusiastically told the crowd about how she had applied and had been awarded a scholarship.
“I would like to encourage those who wish to apply for an Australia Awards Scholarships to study their preferred subjects well, widen their network of contacts, and to pour their heart and soul into convincing the assessors why you are the best candidate for the scholarship,” said Ms Soytavanh.
The closing date for applications is 24 March. For more information on applying for an Australia Awards Scholarship, please visit http://www.australiaawardslaos.org/
Source: Lao News Agency