Former North Korean students receive scholarships

Former North Korean students receive scholarships

Five scholarship recipients have been officially welcomed in Sydney by the Managing Director of UTS Insearch, Mr Alex Murphy and Dr Bronwen Dalton and Dr Kyungja Jung from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

This unique scholarship program strengthens Korean-Australian relations, and is a collaboration by UTS Insearch, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), through the Australia-Korea Foundation, and the South Korean Ministry of Unification (through the Hana Foundation) to build people-to-people international relations. 

In its second year, the scholarships have been awarded to three female and two male university-level students to study English at UTS Insearch in Sydney. The 2017 scholarships, which commenced on 3 July, cover the students’ English language tuition, return flights from South Korea, and accommodation and living expenses in Sydney for 30 weeks.

Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, formally announced the Australia-Korea Foundation 2017-18 grants on 22 August 2017, with the  UTS Insearch’s scholarship program amongst the 31 new grants.

The scholarship program is the only one to offer fully-funded English language scholarships in Australia for former North Korean students. The tuition, living allowance and resources made available for each scholarship recipient is valued at around AUD$40,000, with the annual program valued at just over AUD$200,000.

“By offering extensive, high-quality English tuition, we hope to contribute to creating an opportunity to assist young Koreans in building brighter futures, both for the individuals and their communities,” said UTS Insearch’s Managing Director, Alex Murphy. 

Mr Peter Coleman, AKF Chair said, ‘The Board of the Australia-Korea Foundation is passionate about supporting this project. It highlights our objectives of strengthening people-to-people relations and supports an under-privileged group to realise their potential.” 

Ms Jeeyoung Kim, Principal Director from UTS Insearch’S education partner in South Korea, IEN Institute, was part of the selection panel interviewing applicants for the scholarship. “We helped to select a number of very impressive candidates who will go on to finish their university studies after this program. We see them building successful careers in area such as business, communications, engineering and Chinese studies when they complete their English studies, and they are keen to make a difference,” she said. 

One of the students, Anne* believes this experience will help her to contribute, as she aims to work for the United Nations. “I want to work in The World Food Program,” she said. “When I was young I received help from the UN, they provided food and it was the happiest moment when I was a child.”

The scholarship recipients all agree that Australia is a beautiful country, admiring its nature, fresh air and clear skies, and have found favourite places to visit, such as Bondi Beach, Watson’s Bay and Darling Harbour. 
They have also experienced a greater sense of freedom, thanks to Sydney’s multiculturalism. One student explains, “I was on the bus, and I look around and everyone is different. Here [in Sydney] I don’t need to worry about my identity, because I was always reluctant to expose my background. I am not a stranger here.” 

“Our English language programs are specifically designed to help students learn very effectively through an integrated curriculum. We focus on reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, through face-to-face classroom teaching in small groups and online support, to enhance students’ learning,” said Mr Alex Murphy, UTS Insearch Managing Director.

In just the first eight weeks of study, the scholarship students are noticing improvements in their communication skills, particularly in speaking and listening, which receives less attention in their studies in Korea.

James* is highly motivated to improve his English for group presentations at university in Korea as his previous English lessons focused on reading and grammar, often resulting in miscommunication.  “I meet so many challenges to communicate with others, how can I share my ideas?” he said. “I have ideas, but there was no way to deliver them as my pronunciation is a problem.”

Chloe* appreciates the variety of subjects discussed in class. “The English teachers teach about different topics, such as economics and advertisements,” said Chloe.
“I’m learning about paraphrasing for reports and this is very good. I’m learning how we can write reports, and learning more grammar,” said Jenna.*

Jayden* has plans to continue his academic studies well into the future. “English is essential wherever I go...I always wanted the opportunity to study abroad in an English-speaking country…I want to go onto a Masters’ degree,” he said.

Find out more: Former North Korean students

*The names of the five scholarship students have been changed to protect their identity.