Jiangsu province has long been a popular study destination for foreign students in China, and the Australian student population in Nanjing has doubled on the back of the new Victorian Government Hamer Scholarship initiative. The Hamer Scholarship is a language and cultural immersion program designed to build the Asia-engagement capabilities of Victorians and to help strengthen cultural awareness between Victoria and Asia. The program provides scholarships for Victorians each year to undertake intensive language study at nominated universities or institutions in China, Indonesia, Japan and Korea. The Hamer China scholarship partners with universities in the cities of Nanjing, Wuxi and Suzhou in Jiangsu province.
While the scholarship program is geared ideally toward professionals seeking to build long-term business relationships between China and Victoria, an increasing number of university students have been selected in recent rounds. Hamer scholars typically select Nanjing University or Nanjing Normal University as their host institution, however the universities in Wuxi and Suzhou are also good options, particularly for those really dedicated to their Mandarin studies. The huge international student population in Nanjing means it can be easy to fall into a ‘foreigner bubble’.
Nanjing University vs Nanjing Normal University
If you do decide to go to Nanjing: although Nanjing University has a more prestigious reputation, the student community in Nanjing generally cite Nanjing Normal University as offering the better language program for foreigners, particularly at the advanced level. Both Nanjing Normal University and Nanjing University are conveniently located in downtown Nanjing and are surrounded by a smorgasbord of cafes, bars and bakeries. See our Asia Options full review of Nanjing University and Nanjing Normal University.
Do I Need to Speak Chinese Already?
Existing language skills are not compulsory however preference will be given to candidates with some existing language skills. Even if you haven’t previously learnt Chinese, keep in mind that not all previous Hamer recipients have learnt Mandarin before studying in China. However, as it is an intensive language course, an interest in learning Chinese is pretty essential!
This scholarship provides Victorians an opportunity to:
- Progress Mandarin language skills related to their career path, study plan or business interests
- Enhance opportunities for their organisation or industry body in China.
The Scholarships are primarily aimed at people working in all public, private, not for profit and creative industries with linkages to Indonesia. Recent graduates, higher education students and researchers with specific study and/or research links to China, are also welcome to apply.
Who Can Apply?
To be eligible for consideration for the scholarship candidates must be:
- Aged 21 or above
- Australian citizens or permanent residents who are residents of Victoria, (Victorians living, working or studying in China, Indonesia, Japan or Korea may also be considered, however preference will be given to those currently residing in Victoria)
- Willing to study a language at one of the nominated institutions, for no less than one to two semesters (minimum 5-6 months)
- Not in receipt of any other grant, funding or scholarship for study in the elected country
- Keen to become fully immersed into the culture and way of life in the elected country
Universities & Institutions
Recipients can only receive a Hamer Scholarship for study at the universities below.
- Nanjing University (Nanjing)
- Jiangnan University (Wuxi)
- Soochow University (Suzhou)
- Nanjing Normal University (Nanjing)
The Hamer Scholarships program provides the following: up to 50 scholarships per year at $10,000 each
The scholarships are to undertake a minimum of one semester study duration (normally around five to six months) at one of the institutions nominated in those countries. The scholarship is to be used for language study related expenses only, including:
- International air travel to and from the elected country
- Accommodation and living expenses
- Compulsory comprehensive medical and travel insurance
- Tuition and related fees
- Text books and other study materials
- Other study-related out-of-pocket expenses while in the elected country.
Tips From Previous Recipients
According to Alice Slevison, a 2012 inaugural recipient of the Hamer Scholarship, the scholarship is a “fantastic opportunity” that can really open doors in terms of future career prospects.
From Alice’s experience, the ideal candidate would be someone who has a passion for learning about new cultures, and is adaptable to new environments. Therefore, when applying for the Scholarship, it would be handy to highlight how you have demonstrated your interest in the country you intend to study in, and how you would conduct yourself in that country.
Alice also suggests that applicants spend a fair amount of time thinking about their in-country study plan so that they can show the panel that they are committed to making the most out of their time in their chosen country. For example, volunteering with the Australia-China Youth Association Nanjing Chapter or attending networking events with AustCham in Shanghai on weekends are great ways of showing your intention to engage with the opportunity fully.
Asia Options also asked Moyi Zheng, a 2012 Hamer scholar from the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet, to learn more about her study experience in Nanjing.
What were some of the positives of the program?
Due to my advanced language skills, I was able to study classes such as Chinese Foreign Policy, Chinese Economics and Chinese Modern History at Nanjing University. This was a very challenging but rewarding program as it gave me great insight into the way in which Chinese professors analyse Chinese policy. The openness of these professors in critiquing Chinese politics and policies was unexpected, and I would highly recommend this course to others as it challenges the traditional Western perspective on China and the way in which the politburo creates policy to meet the modern challenges for China.
What were some of the negatives of the program?
There weren’t many negatives for me – my advice would be to pick the subjects that you want to focus on and to not pick too many. A tutor would really help too, as the language is quite technical and the essays are pretty tough. I would recommend interested students to challenge themselves as much as they could on the final essay – to address a question that would be at a similar level to what they would for a university subject in their home country.
For more information and to apply check out the Victorian Government Hamer Scholarship page.
Read about Holly’s experience as a Hamer Scholarship China Recipient: Wining & Dining China
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