MELBOURNE, April 11 (Xinhua)-- An Australian University has embarked on an ambitious push to further strengthen ties with its Chinese tertiary-education partners, as "Australia Week in China" gets underway.
The University of Tasmania (UTAS) has revealed it will sign agreements with as many as three Chinese institutions in April, the largest of which will lead to the creation of a Sino-Australian college based in both countries.
UTAS Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen on Monday announced a tripartite collaboration between the prestigious Tasmanian institution, the University of Western Australia (UWA) and the highly regarded Chongqing-based Southwest University (SWU) to launch Westa College.
The bi-lateral deal, approved by China's Ministry of Education, will result in the construction of a purpose-built campus in Chongqing to cater for 200 new Australian and Chinese students.
It is understood that teaching at Westa College will commence in September this year.
It is expected that students, from a range of diverse four-year courses, will spend their first two years in China before transferring to either Perth or Tasmania, and receive a Bachelor's degree from both SWU and the Australian institution of their choice.
UTAS, which has experienced a 50 percent increase in international-student enrollments in the past 12 months, is set to pull in an extra 80 students under the arrangement, a statement said.
The Tasmanian university also announced another two Chinese partnerships as part of the release of its global-strategy statement on Monday.
Within the media release, UTAS unveiled a cross-nation marine biology Masters degree, this time with its peers at Shandong University at Weihai.
This yet to be finalized two-year post-graduate degree would allow Chinese and Australian students to spend one year abroad.
On top of that, Professor Rathjen and Dr Joy Rathjen will give a lecture on stem cell research at the Beijing's University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a new sister-school, in the coming months.
Professor Rathjen said these agreements would usher in an new era of "cultural and intellectual exchange".
"The University of Tasmania aims to provide a bridge between our state and the world," Rathjen said in a statement on Monday.
"Through agreements of these types, we grow meaningful partnerships along with our global alumni network and also friendships between institutions of great influence."
"The economic and cultural benefits of these ties are invaluable to our state, connecting our education, our business sector and our community internationally."
Tasmania's Premier Will Hodgman is currently overseas for the second annual "Australian Week in China" (April 11 to 14), travelling with a large delegation of education, tourism, agriculture and business officials in a bid to build on the two region's growing "friendship."
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