University of Sydney Opens First Offshore Center in Suzhou, China Education Articles


Officials from China and Australia cut the red ribbon at the launch ceremony of the University of Sydney Center at the Suzhou Industrial Park.

THE University of Sydney recently opened its first major offshore education and research facility, the new University of Sydney Center in China at the Suzhou Industrial Park, to enhance its relationship and cooperation with China.

The center will provide a base for Australian University of Sydney staff in China and facilitate work placements, internships and other learning opportunities for Australian students in the country, according to the university.

It will also host research seminars, conferences and conventions, and provide a teaching and learning environment for collaborative programs with Chinese universities, institutes and industries.

The center is a key part of the university’s internationalization strategy and will strengthen intellectual and creative exchanges between Chinese and Australian researchers, academics and students, said University of Sydney chancellor Belinda Hutchinson.

“We are delighted to have established this first major facility outside of Australia in Suzhou, a historic and beautiful city which is also a major trade and economic hub,” she said. “The center will provide the foundation for direct connection and collaboration with government, local industry, counterpart universities and alumni.

“This is a concrete demonstration of our commitment to lead the way in intellectual engagement with China and in the Asia-Pacific region,” she added. “Australia sees itself as part of the Asia-Pacific region and particularly has a close relationship with China.”

Hutchinson pointed out that the university has a total of 60,000 students, of whom 20,000 are international students and 12,000 come from China. It also has 200 academics who focus on research related to China, including its politics, economy, medicine, health, transportation and housing.

Michael Spence, the vice-chancellor and principal of University of Sydney, also said the launch of the center is an important milestone in the further development of the university’s close relationship with China.

The University of Sydney has been Australia’s leading university with regard to engagement with China for decades. It was the first Australian university to have research links with China and to welcome Chinese students and academics.

“We have taught the Chinese language for well over 50 years,” he said. “More importantly, the researchers of the University of Sydney were working with the government here in China on important researches from the 1950s, long before Australia had diplomatic relations with the modern republic. And we’ve carried on the tradition of research cooperation.”

Two of its members of staff have won the Friendship Award, the highest honor the Chinese government can give a foreigner, for the contribution their work has made to social and economic development in the country.

Spence said one of the strengths in his university is that it has a relatively comprehensive range of disciplines, and they’ve been thinking hard on how to bring those disciplines together to solve real world problems.

“For example, we have a ... project in obesity diabetes and cardiac diseases, that brings everybody together, from philosophers to physiologists,” he said. “Some of our colleagues are working in hospitals that have both people who are suffering from malnutrition and people suffering from obesity. Those problems are not only problems for Australia, but also problems for China.

“So in these kinds of areas, we have real possibilities to bring together our expertise and Chinese expertise and experience to make a difference,” he added. “That’s what we have been doing for a long time, and this new center will make it a little bit easier by having a local place where our researchers can meet.”

Spence also pointed out that the university has been cooperating with Chinese universities and departments, as well as many institutions across the country that work in areas important for both China and Australia.

He said: “For example, we have a research cooperation with Northwest Agricultural University, which is a center for expertise in diseases that affect wheat; and the University of Sydney is a center for expertise in diseases that affect wheat. It’s important to keep our people fed in our region to the future.

“With a tradition of working together, we’ve always made visits to China; as our Chinese partners have made visits to Australia,” said Spence. “I visit China about six times a year. And my quickest trip to China was once for lunch. I flew over night to Shanghai for lunch and flew back to Australia the next night, without a hotel room.

“So we decided that it’s important for us to have a base for our Chinese activities, not only for our students, who spend time in China, but also for our research partners, our alumni, our government collaborations here,” he said. “We are not building a campus here, but we are building a home for some of our work with our partners.” - Shanghai Daily

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