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China Microblog                                                  December 2016                                     Embassy Website

Message from the Minister Counsellor

Another busy and exciting year comes to an end.  

The year started with a celebration of the first year of the New Colombo Plan (NCP) in China and will close with a celebration of one year of entry into force of the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

In between these two key milestones in our people-to-people and trade and economic relationships, it has been a year packed with high level visits – two-way student, researcher and academic exchange –senior officials’ dialogues – cooperation on quality assurance and qualifications recognition - and countless partnerships and alumni activities and initiatives.

As I reflect on the contribution of the Embassy education team over the past year, I am thankful for the support of Chinese education colleagues who work so hard to support China’s education cooperation partnership with Australia.

To all of my Chinese and Australian friends - wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!

New Australian Council for International Education
The Australian Council for International Education held its first meeting on 23 November 2016 at Parliament House, Canberra.
The Council, chaired by the Australian Government Minister for Education and Training consists of six Australian Government Ministers and Assistant Ministers and eleven expert members.
During the meeting, Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham stressed his commitment to maintaining Australia’s reputation for quality education.  This first meeting of the Council made a commitment to focussing on the importance of quality and excellence at every step of the student journey. 
The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs, reiterated the Australian Government’s commitment to two-way mobility and exchanges for students, researchers and academics.
The Council will oversee implementation of Australia’s National Strategy for International Education 2025 and will work with education providers, industry and federal and territory governments to ensure that international education continues to play a key role in driving Australia’s future economic growth, global engagement and innovation.  

Photo:  Inaugural meeting of the Australian Council for International Education
Australian Universities Perform Strongly in Global Rankings.

Each year sees more global rankings of universities, looking at the overall performance of universities using different measures, the performance in specific disciplines, and performance on measures like employability.

This year Australian universities continued to perform strongly across each of these measures, reflecting the overall high quality of Australia’s university sector and world class strengths.

Looking at the three main rankings of overall university performance (the Academic Rankings of World Universities, the Times Higher Education World Rankings and the QS World Rankings), more than half of all of Australia’s universities featured among the best in the world, with six Australian universities in the top 100 in the world in each ranking. This year, a number of Australian universities were acknowledged as among the best in the world for the first time. Australian universities also featured strongly on the list of top universities under 50 years, with more good young universities than any other country in the world according to the Times Higher Education 150 under 50 rankings. 

In terms of specific disciplines, the QS World University Rankings by Subject showed that Australian universities are truly world class. Australian universities feature highly in each discipline, including for example having three of the 20 best universities in the world teaching architecture.

The two new employability rankings (released by Times Higher Education and QS) showed that Australian universities produce high calibre industry-ready graduates, with one ranking showing an Australian institution ranked 4th in the world in terms of employability, ahead of a number of heavyweights including Oxford, Cambridge and UCLA.

As THE World University Rankings editor Phil Baty noted, “Australia’s leading universities produce highly influential research and are successful at both attracting top international talent and collaborating with scholars from across the world,”
University leaders discuss key issues facing education and research
A large delegation of Australian university leaders travelled to Beijing from 20 – 23 October 2016 for the China Annual Conference for International Education (CACIE) organised by the China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE).
Under the theme of Sustainable Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Partnerships of Schools, Business and Society the conference also hosted the Australia China Higher Education Forum - a long-running, joint initiative of UA and the CEAIE that encourages university leaders to draw on each other’s expertise in addressing key issues facing education and research. Australia’s Ambassador Her Excellency Jan Adams AO opened the forum.
Around 80 university leaders met to discuss a broad range of topics including internships and student mobility, business engagement and graduate outcomes, and research collaboration and commercialisation. 
Australian delegation leader, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, Vice Chancellor of Monash University, spoke at the forum and the CACIE plenary about the importance of taking an inter-disciplinary and industry facing approach to tackling shared challenges.  Ms Tracy Colgan, Chair of the Australian Chamber of Commerce (AustCham) in Beijing, also spoke about the importance of providing young Australians with internship opportunities to encourage deeper cultural understanding.

Photo: Ambassador Adams opens the Australia China Higher Education Forum

Photo: Professor Gardner speaking at the CACIE plenary
International Forum on Gender Equality for Sustainable Development
In a joint initiative of the CEAIE, the China Women’s University and the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, over one hundred women from a wide range of backgrounds came together to share strategies for improving gender equality outcomes during the CACIE. A panel of leaders led the discussion.
As a United Nations Sustainability Development Goal, gender equity is increasingly understood across the developed and developing world as a major factor that needs to be urgently addressed if we are to sustain global productivity and economic growth.

Countries around the world are developing new initiatives to improve women’s participation in key leadership roles, to encourage more women into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and to tackle the pay gap between men and women.

To help people learn more about the forum and the issue of gender equality, the embassy education team made a short film of the event.

Photo: Women’s Leadership in Higher Education panel at the inaugural International Forum on Gender Equality for Sustainable Development.
China Visit – Secretary of Australian Department of Education and Training
Dr Michele Bruniges AM, Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Education and Training made her first official visit as Secretary to China last month. 

While in China Dr Bruniges participated in a program of OECD meetings and related events hosted by the National Institute for Education Sciences. Dr Bruniges was recently appointed as Chair of the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) board.

During her visit, Dr Bruniges also met with Vice Minister Zhu from the Ministry of Education to discuss shared challenges and opportunities in education, and how Australia can strengthen its education engagement with China over the coming decade.   

Photo: Dr Bruniges and Vice Minister Zhu discuss Australia China education cooperation
Congratulations to our 2017 Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships Awardees

During her visit, Dr Michele Bruniges joined Chinese awardees and Australia China alumni at a special dinner to celebrate the outcomes of the 2017 round of the Australia Awards-Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships. Dr Bruniges was joined at the celebration by Vice President of Beijing Normal University Professor Hao Fanghua, the Deputy Director General of China Service Centre for Scholarly Exchange (CSCSE) Mr Che Weimin, and Professor Gregory McCarthy (BHP Billiton Chair of Australian Studies Centre at Peking University) and other Chinese government officials and university professors.
Dr Bruniges spoke about the central importance of two-way student and researcher mobility to the Australia China bilateral relationship and took the opportunity to personally congratulate the newest round of awardees and to welcome them to Australia in 2017.

 Photo: Secretary Bruniges with Australia Awards-Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships awardees and alumni.
Strengthened cooperation of quality assurance in higher education and vocational education and training

A quality assurance training delegation from China’s Ministry of Education, provincial education departments, universities and vocational institutions visited Australia for a two week study tour this November to discuss better quality assurance for China-foreign cooperative programs.
The 25 delegates, led by CEAIE’s Deputy Secretary Mr Zong Wa visited Sydney and Melbourne where discussions were held with Australian Government officials, national quality regulators and state education departments. The delegation also visited a range of public and private higher education and vocational education institutions to understand how institutions work within the Australia quality assurance framework, not only to meet the national quality standards, but to drive innovation and excellence in teaching and learning.
The visit follows the establishment of a suite of new cooperation agreements between Australian national quality authorities and their Chinese counterpart organisations.  Australia and China have strengthened cooperation in quality assurance since the establishment of Australia’s national regulators for higher education and vocational education and training in 2012 and will continue to work together to ensure students from both countries have access to the highest quality education.
In addition to leading the Ministry of Education delegation, Deputy Secretary Zong Wa and Victorian government Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade, the Hon Philip Dalidakis signed a  letter of intent to support internships for Chinese students studying in Victoria.  This agreement builds on the successful visit to China of the Victorian Premier earlier this year.

Photo: Ministry of Education delegation with Universities Australia at University of Sydney

Photo: CEAIE Deputy Secretary Zong Wa and Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade of the Parliament of Victoria Hon Philip Dalidakis signs new letter of intent to support student internships
Online recruitment portal launched in Beijing
The Group of Eight, together with AustCham and the China Chamber of international Commerce (CCOIC), has established a free online recruitment portal for Chinese graduates of Group of Eight universities returning to China. will connect Go8 graduates to over 50,000 leading employers in China from member companies of AustCham and the CCOIC. 
In launching the portal, Ambassador Adams emphasised the importance of university-business linkages to supporting the employability of both Chinese and Australian graduates of Australian universities.
“The importance of business/industry engagement for our university partnerships going forward cannot be overstated,” said Ambassador Adams.  

Photo: Ambassador Adams launches
“Asian Future Fellows Program” student visits the Embassy
This November, we welcomed 16 students from Griffith University and Peking University who were participating in the annual “Asian Future Fellows Program”, a program run by Griffith University and Peking University.
Every year, 10 students from Peking University and 10 from Griffith University are selected to participate in the program, spending one week in Brisbane and one week in Beijing.  While in Beijing, the students looked at a range of topics to do with the broader bilateral relationship.
During their visit to the Embassy, they participated in a discussion about their Future Fellows program, the bilateral China-Australia relationship and the connection between international education and a globalized workforce.

Photo: "Asian Future Fellows Program" participants with embassy staff 
Alumni Story from Chloe Dempsey 

“New Colombo Plan" Scholar @ Renmin University

As a young Australian in China it seems every foreign student around me is here due to the generosity of a scholarship, whether that be from the Australian government, the Chinese government or multiple other private entities.
While I was lucky to attend the best public schools in my home state of Western Australia, once I started attending university, study abroad would have been something I would have had to entirely self-fund; an often very expensive endeavour, although wholly worth the investment. 

I have been lucky enough to spend over a year in China cumulatively over the last four years, and I will be here another year, due to the generosity of private individuals, organisations and government who have seen the value in giving young Australians an international education. I am grateful for the foresight and internationalism this generosity has entailed.
While different scholarship funders may have their own motivations, for my own personal experience, all of the time I have been lucky enough to spend abroad has developed me personally in ways that Perth and my home university, UWA, were not able to do alone. 

From initially coming to China as a Foundation for Young Australians ‘Young Peep Without Borders’ in 2012, to taking part in short-term study programs through UWA and the Australia China Youth Association, my time in China has indubitably shaped me into the individual I am today, and changed my career trajectory in ways I could truly never have imagined. The most defining experiences of the last five years of my life have all been due to being taken out of my comfort zone; something that international study almost always provokes. I believe these experiences, while they can be testing at the time, are what spur our personal growth and development, and we should seek them out as often as we can when we are still students and likely not hemmed in by long-term commitments. 
All of this experience is what makes me so passionate about ensuring that other young people, both Australian and Chinese, are given these same opportunities, so that they can become global citizens, who are invested in their country’s future seen through the prism of internationalism.
In a world increasingly torn between global interconnectedness and isolationism, it is important for young people to have international experiences in order to see with their own eyes the depth and breadth of these concepts. In this way we can be effective in creating a better world, which I believe that at some level, we all strive for.
In my role as Education Director for the Australia China Youth Association, I have been able to coordinate a number of international education opportunities for our members, including scholarships to study, volunteer and attend conferences in Australia, Mainland China and Taiwan. It has been immensely rewarding to communicate with these members after their experiences and see what impact it has had on them personally. 
I am incredibly grateful to the Australian government, Chinese government and Westpac Bank for supporting my study in Beijing for the course of two years. I hope I can repay this debt in the future through enabling other young people, from less privileged backgrounds to access the same opportunities I have.
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