Five PhD students from Botswana are set to benefit from a new scholarship scheme launched today by the University of Newcastle and the Government of Botswana.
The scholarship scheme is part of a major development initiative from the University of Newcastle designed to build capacity in countries in southern Africa.
The initiative, valued at up to $2.64 million, will see fees waived for up to 30 government-sponsored research higher degree students from southern Africa to study at the University of Newcastle in Australia over the next three years.
The five scholarships in Botswana are the first of up to 30 to be announced in this significant project.
Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Education and Arts at the University of Newcastle, Professor Terry Lovat, said the University had a longstanding relationship with Botswana.
"Over the past 10 years, more than 450 students from Botswana have studied degree programs across the University's five Faculties," Professor Lovat said. "This new scholarship scheme builds on and enhances the University's existing fee waiver scholarship program, which has operated in Botswana, Rwanda, Lesotho and Tanzania in recent years."
The equitable merit-based scheme will support talented students to study in the fields of education, international affairs, public health, engineering and public sector reform.
Professor Lovat said the new scheme was the direct result of a University delegation visit to southern Africa earlier this year.
"Australian universities have a vital role to play in southern Africa in relation to capacity building and skills creation. There is a critical need to invest in education and expand and realign the skills of the people of this region.
"This international collaboration with the Government of Botswana recognises the University's commitment to respond to the challenges facing African communities."
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Botswana, the Honourable Mr Phandu T.C. Skelemani, said he appreciated the goodwill and development assistance from the University of Newcastle.
He said the scholarship scheme would reinforce his Government's efforts in capacity building, particularly in areas of Botswana with an acute shortage of skilled personnel.
The University of Newcastle is actively pursing long-term partnerships with major universities in southern Africa in areas of joint research interest such as energy, environment, health care provision and education. The first students of the new scholarship scheme are expected to start their studies in Australia in July 2009.
The University of Newcastle, Australia and Government of Botswana PhD Scholarship Project will be launched at 11am on Friday 7 November 2008 at the Conference Centre, Gabarone Sun Hotel, Chuma Drive, Gabarone, Botswana.