If you have not heard what NCP Scholarship is – it is a very prestigious scholarship worth about $67,000. It supports your exchange or semester-length study abroad experience. NCP applications are open once a year, betwen 1 May until 31 May. You need to apply through ANU Global Programs system (link below!)

First off: apply. Put yourself out there, as hard as it might be. Even if you’re not 100% sure of yourself, do it anyway. At the absolute worst it’s an incredibly useful experience in applications and interviews with lots of room to gain constructive criticism and feedback. At best you could find yourself on the exchange of your dreams. I remember first hearing about NCP through stories about my sister’s friends going on exchange through the program. At the time, I didn’t even consider applying, thinking it was just a pipe dream. But the more it came up in conversations, the more emails I received pestering me, the more people told me to apply, the more convinced I was to give it a shot. Making that decision turned out to be one of the best of my whole life

The process can be daunting and there were times I doubted myself, but there are so many people to help you and offer advice with each step. The overall application process looks a bit like this:

  1. Decide to apply, hopefully after attending information sessions and checking your eligibility – more details can be found here: https://anu-au-sa.terradotta.com/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgramAngular&id=10240

  2. Figure out why you want the scholarship
    At this point, you need to realise why you want the scholarship and how it fits into your studies and future plans. Figure out what’s drawing you to the program and what you want to do with it. Talk it through with people and see what gets you excited when you explain it to them.

  3. Submit an application to Global Programs by May 31st
    a. Read DFAT’s Guidelines and Advice and make sure your responses relate and make references to these! This is key; they tell you exactly what they’re looking for.

    These can be found at: https://dfat.gov.au/people-to-people/new-colombo-plan/scholarship-program/Pages/scholarship-program.aspx

    b. It’s important to be honest and genuine in your answers, it will be obvious if you’re just saying things because you think they sound good.
  4. Interview round at ANU
    If you’re shortlisted from the first application, the next stage is an internal interview with Global Programs. Do practice interviews with friends and make sure you’re comfortable with your application and the selection criteria before this round.
  5. Application to DFAT
    a. After the interview round, the top 10 candidates from ANU will be selected for nomination to DFAT. If approved by DFAT, you are invited to apply to them directly.

    b. This application is the same questions as the ANU round, but you’ll have the chance to rework your answers and talk to Global Programs about their advice before submitting.
  6. Interview with DFAT
    a. This is the final round. Here you will meet with a panel from DFAT to interview and elaborate on your application.

    b. ANU will help you practise interview techniques and make sure your application is as perfect as it can be.

    c. By this stage, you should be really comfortable with your application and how it relates to DFAT’s criteria. Meet up with other applicants or friends to practise interview techniques, power-poses and all the rest.
  7. Wait and see!
    a. There can be a lot of waiting during the whole process, so try and keep your mind off it between stages! Remember that if it doesn’t pan out, there are other options, other times to apply, and many factors at play.

    b. If you are selected, there is a training weekend in Canberra to meet the other Scholars and prepare you for your program. This is concluded with an Awards Ceremony to officially announce the Scholars.

    c. After this, you are assigned a case-manager and they help you organise, plan and finalise the last aspects of your program (as well as help you while you’re over there)!

My time on exchange so far has been incredible. I’m currently in Yogyakarta, Indonesia for the semester studying and undertaking an internship. Over the semester break, I will be traveling, attending conferences, and interning. Next semester, I will move to Malang, Indonesia to do a semester of Field Research and write a thesis!

The financial support, training and networks provided by the program has allowed me to feel secure in moving to a new country for a year and stepping completely out of my comfort zone. I have already met so many extraordinary people from all around Australia who are jetting off to the Asia-Pacific to do incredible things.

Most importantly, the scholarship has allowed me to make the most of opportunities that come up – including invites to events and conferences, undertaking internships, and traveling to various parts of Indonesia. This program is truly an amazing opportunity and I urge everyone who has the chance to apply.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. There are also lots of other ANU students who are currently on the scholarship or alumnus, so please reach out if you want to talk to someone about the process!