It was a day of cricket fanfare at the University of Wollongong (UOW) as a new scholarship for Pakistani students was launched with the help of Australian cricket legend Adam Gilchrist AM.
The scholarship will grant two Pakistani students entry to UOW each year with $30,000 in financial support each, leadership training and international opportunities.
Mr Gilchrist an UOW Global Brand Ambassador said it gives Pakistani students a step up to fulfil their aspirations.
"[It's] not just forwarding the opportunity for young people to enhance their education, but also take on some responsibility around leadership and about the direction that they want to see our community head," he said.
UOW graduate Dr Usman Khalil moved to Wollongong from Pakistan in 2017 after receiving a scholarship.
The former president of the UOW Pakistani Student Association said Australia is a pioneer in the water industry field.
"Australia is really respected in the world, water is a part of Australian diplomacy," he said.
His PhD is about coastal reservoir development in Brisbane, flood adaptation and water resource development.
"[It has been a] transformative journey, which I took six years ago ... I would say that this initial scholarship point was the stepping stone," he said.
The father-of-three is a senior water resource engineer at the Murray Darling Basin Authority.
The university launched the new scholarship for Pakistani students on October 25, to inspire a new generation of leaders.
The Vice-Chancellor's Leadership Scholarships - Pakistan includes $30,000 a year of financial assistance, leadership training, academic support, community networking, and includes a semester overseas.
UOW Vice Chancellor, Professor Patricia Davidson said 'post-COVID-19' there's been a shift in the demographic of international students, from China further south.
"The majority of our students are coming from South Asia so they're a key focus area for student recruitment and we just really want to recognise the importance of those relationships," she said.
The High Commissioner for Pakistan H.E. Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said around 1000 Pakistani international students are enrolled at the University of Wollongong.
"This will provide an opportunity for future Pakistani leaders to study at one of Australia's top universities and gain access to world class education," he said.
"In addition to developing academically and professionally this will also provide them opportunity to learn more about Australian culture, to appreciate Australian multiculturalism, and then also to be part of the global network of future leaders."
Dr Khalil was the President of the Pakistani Student Association from 2020 to 2021 and received many calls about students struggling to find accommodation.
While he welcomes the scholarship he also hopes that the university can do more to assist Pakistani students to enter the Australian job market.
"Some students they really struggle to get in the job market due to the communication skills [and] lack of familiarity with the Australian job market," he said.
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