AUSTRALIAN students from three universities will carry out study and work placements across Papua New Guinea in 2016 supported by the Australian government.

A total of 46 undergraduate students from Deakin University, James Cook University and the University of Wollongong will take part in the placements from next year under the Australian government’s New Colombo Program, which sees Australian students study at universities in Asia and Pacific Island nations.

Among the courses they will study are history, at the Pacific Adventist University; anthropology, at the University of Papua New Guinea and at Kunguma Haus Poroman; health at the Kavieng Hospital; and medical studies at the Namatanai District Hospital, Port Moresby General Hospital, Wewak Hospital, and Alotau Provincial Hospital.

Participating students will also gain experience of Papua New Guinea workplaces through internships or mentorships.

Acting Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea Bronte Moules said she hoped the students would return to Australia with new insights and understanding about Papua New Guinea and new friendships that will last a lifetime.

“These exciting new mobility projects demonstrate the opportunities for Australian students to deepen their academic and life experiences through study and work placements in Papua New Guinea,” she said.

Mobility projects are open to Australian students from any discipline, and range from short-term study tours to semester-based study and internships.

This follows the visit of seven students from Federation University to Papua New Guinea in June, for a four week professional teaching practicum in Oro Province.

In a speech given in Canberra in early September, Australian Foreign Affairs minister Julie Bishop said that 653 Australian university students would have taken part in the program by the end of 2016.

“We have 40 students going to the Cook Islands, 140 to Fiji, 10 to Kiribati, 10 to Palau, 58 to Papua New Guinea, 122 to Samoa, 188 to the Solomon Islands, 36 to Tonga, 49 to Vanuatu and as more students understand the benefits and great experience that they will get from living and studying and working in the Pacific, I think those numbers will increase significantly,” she said.

“So I’m delighted that the New Colombo Plan is now in the Pacific and we’re working with the universities of the South Pacific and the colleges that have been set up in the Pacific and providing wonderful opportunities for our students.”