Thirty five new Solomon Islands students will study at Australian universities next year under the Australia Awards, making it the largest ever intake of Solomon Islanders awarded Australian scholarships.

The Australia Awards cover travel, health insurance, living allowances, tuition fees and university costs.

Students will study a wide range of courses at Australian universities across the country including engineering, environmental sciences, economics, business, midwifery, occupational therapy, biomedical sciences, public health, nutrition, urban development, education, pharmacy, community development, construction project management and public policy.

A further 30 Solomon Islands students will study at regional institutions under Australian Regional Development Scholarships. The 2013 recipients will be announced in early January.

In congratulating the 2013 scholars at the pre-departure briefing in Honiara yesterday, Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Matt Anderson said the scholarships represent a significant investment in the long term development of Solomon Islands.

"The scholarships are an important part of Australia's partnership with Solomon Islands. They provide opportunities for Solomon Islanders to receive a quality education and to build skills, leadership, knowledge and expertise for the benefit of the whole country," Mr Anderson said.

"When the scholars return home after completing their studies, they will be able to use their newly acquired skills to influence change and contribute to development in Solomon Islands."

"Many former Australian scholars now hold senior positions in both the public and private sectors in Solomon Islands, so the opportunity offered through scholarship can be a life changing one."

Former Australian scholar and member of the Solomon Islands - Australia scholarship Alumni, Dr Patricia Rodie, currently Deputy Director of SICHE, addressed the scholars and reminded them of the benefits of hard work.

"You are responsible for your own learning, and your success in your studies depends on how you manage you time and prioritise your activities. I urge you to fully utilise the opportunity for the sake of your future, the future of your family, community, and our beloved country, Solomon Islands," Dr Rodie said.

"To all ADS and ALA Scholarship awardees, may I wish you the best in your studies, and may 2013 be a successful year for you all."

Freda Pitakaka, who will complete a two year Masters of Public Health (Research) at the University of New South Wales, said the AusAID-funded scholarship is a great privilege.

"It's a great honour. I hope that through my course that I can return to Solomon Islands and take a leading role in coordinating health research to guide policy for the future of my country," said Freda.

"I was fortunate to receive an undergraduate scholarship from AusAID so I am doubly thankful to have this further opportunity. Christmas has come early for me this year!"

John Fasi, currently a biology and science education lecturer at the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education, will complete a four-year Doctor of Philosophy (Chemical and Biological Sciences) at the University of Queensland as an Australian Leadership Awards scholar.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn new skills and knowledge, so I am determined to make the most this chance."

Rebecca Manehanitai, a lecturer at the Midwifery School, Ministry of Health & Medical Services at SICHE will complete a masters of science (Midwifery) at the University of Wollongong said that she was looking forward to her course.

"I am very grateful to receive the scholarship and what it will prepare me to do when I come home - to teach and train the next generation of future midwifes in Solomons," Rebecca said.

Mr Anderson said the new scholars, along with the recently announced Australian Leadership Awards scholars, brings the total number of Solomon Islands students supported by Australia to over 140 in 2013.

"Australia will allocate A$4.6 million (SBD$32 million) this year to scholarships for Solomon Islanders, reinforcing a major investment in both education and the future of Solomon Islands," Mr Anderson said.

The recipients of Australian Development Scholarships in 2013 are:

Jone Vave - Bachelor of Engineering (Civil & Construction), Queensland University of Technology; Melanie Galo - Bachelor of Applied Finance, Macquarie University; Diana Luitolo - Bachelor of Business (International Trade), Victoria University; Barbara Daufanamae - Bachelor of Occupational Therapy, James Cook University; Urijah Liligeto - Bachelor of Biomedical Science, University of Queensland; Brolin Regegolomo - Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical), University of Newcastle; John Hauirae - Bachelor of Engineering, University of Queensland; Kerry-Flynn Wa'atara - Bachelor of Medical Science, University of NSW;Felix E'emane - Bachelor of Biotechnology, Monash University;Joe Hagabore - Bachelor of Nutrition & Dietetics, Flinders University;Ishmael Aitorea - Bachelor of Architectural Design, University of Queensland;Neesha Kwalai - Bachelor of Design (Architecture), Deakin University
Timothy Zezemu - Bachelor of Public Health, Griffith University;George Pitakoe - Bachelor of Arts (Community Development), Victoria University;Kenneth Kevisi - Bachelor of Engineering (Mechatronics), Edith Cowan University;Emmalyn Maelagi - Bachelor of Urban Development, Queensland University of Technology;Norman Tanen - Bachelor of Accounting/Bachelor of Business, Central Queensland University;
Rebecca Manehanitai - Master of Science (Midwifery), University of Wollongong;Dau Lionel - Bachelor of Arts (Community Development), Victoria University; Lynette Bana - Bachelor of Construction Project Management, University of Technology, Sydney; Natalina Hong - Master of Public Policy, Australian National University; Angella Tahani - Master of International Public Health, University of Sydney; Freda Pitakaka - Master of Public Health (Research), University of New South Wales; Pauline Soaki - Master of Development Studies (Gender and Development), University of Melbourne; Junily Wanga - Master of Public Health (Health Administration), James Cook University; Frank Tuke - Bachelor of Speech Pathology, University of Queensland; Tekopa Navere - Bachelor of Science, University of Western Australia
Chris Tewa'ani - Bachelor of Medical Science, University of Queensland; Samson Wa'ahero - Bachelor of Corporate Systems Management, Queensland University of Technology.

The recipients of the Australian Leadership Awards announced last month:

Charles Sulu -Doctor of Clinical Dentistry (Prosthodontics), University of Sydney; Julie Zinihite - Master of Clinical Pharmacy, University of Queensland; Carol Pitisopa - Masters of Community Development, Australian National University;
John Fasi - Doctor of Philosophy (Chemical and Biological Sciences), University of Queensland; Caroline Laore -Master of Social Research, Australian National University; Paul Mae - Doctor of Philosophy (Commerce, economics, business, law, management), University of Queensland

Source: Press Release, Australian High Commission, Solomon Islands