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Westpac backs 37 young leaders with Asian Exchange Scholarships

28 March, 2018

Today Westpac Bicentennial Foundation awarded 37 undergraduate students with a Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship each valued at $12,000, to help strengthen Australia’s future talent pool of Asia-capable leaders.
Offered in partnership with eight Australian universities, the scholarship will give recipients the opportunity to study for up to a year at a leading university in China, Singapore or Hong Kong, and includes an eight month leadership development program, co-created with Common Purpose, a global leader in cross-boundary leadership development.

According to Susan Bannigan, CEO of the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation, “Our 2018 Westpac Asian Exchange Scholars are a talented and diverse group of aspiring leaders. We have future lawyers, policy advisors, engineers and scientists within the group. The common thread that connects each of them is their passion for Asia and their strong desire to create a better future for all Australians.”

Monash University Law student David Murikumthara is one of three students who will study at City University of Hong Kong. While abroad, David plans to gain a better understanding of migrant workers in Asia, so he can bring his learnings back to Australia, helping refugees to integrate more successfully. David has previously volunteered at Refugee Legal in Melbourne, providing legal support to asylum seekers. He also wishes to learn more about the startup ecosystem in Hong Kong, to compare it with his time working with start-ups in Australia.

“This will be my second exchange to Asia - I previously spent a year in Japan. However, I'm even more excited this time around, because I'm more aware of all the amazing opportunities open to me. Especially with the support of Westpac, and the network of other Westpac Scholars, I'm confident that while in Asia I'll be able to meaningfully explore my interests in migration and start-ups - and bring something back with me to Australia.”

For Meira Chen from the University of New South Wales, her focus is on the opportunities she now has to create social change with the brightest minds of Australia and Asia. During her exchange she has ambitious plans to spearhead the initiatives of Educating Girls in Rural China through the Australia China Youth Association, and intern with AustCham in Beijing. Post-exchange, her ultimate goal is to influence education policy in Australia, bringing more focus to Asia in the curriculum of NSW schools.

"I think that the concept of guanxi ( 关系 ) or "relationships" in Chinese culture can be a conduit for greater bilateral ties. Through collaborating with my fellow Westpac Scholars and staying connected with people I meet on my Asian exchange adventure, I would like to share and open up pathways for more Australian young professionals to tap into learning opportunities in China."

Recipients will commence their exchange in August 2018, starting with a four-day residential program in Shanghai. During this time together they will have a unique opportunity to visit world-leading technology and innovation labs, seeing firsthand the inspiring development of the innovation ecosystem in China.

“The Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship is much more than a student exchange. It focuses heavily on leadership development, establishing global networks and developing a greater understanding of the region through immersive learning.”

All 37 students will also gain lifelong membership to the Westpac 100 Scholars Network, joining an incredible group of inspiring leaders.

“Growing by 100 scholars a year across our five scholarship programs, this alumni network of inspired and inspiring people is connecting those with bold ideas to build a better future for all Australians,” Susan added.

The Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship is offered in partnership with The University of Adelaide, The Australian National University, The University of Melbourne, Monash University, The University of Queensland, The University of Sydney, University of New South Wales and University of Western Australia. It is one of five scholarships offered through the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation, which awards 100 scholarships every year, forever.

For the full list of 2018 Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship recipients visit


About the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation
The Westpac Scholarship Program was created in 2014 with a $100 million gift to the nation, to help to support individuals with the drive and imagination to shape the future of Australia. As part of this commitment, 100 scholarships will be awarded each year, forever.

Media enquiries:

Emalie McPherson
M. 0481 915 557