La Trobe China links come of age for a new future (Issue 6, 2013)

ChinaThree key La Trobe education partnerships in China have ‘come of age’ as the University moves to expand these in the future.

In July the University celebrated the 21st anniversary of its links with the Chinese University of Hong Kong, La Trobe’s first venture into transnational education.

More than 1 500 Bachelor of Nursing students have graduated as part of that relationship, a point emphasised during a special celebration held as part of the latest nursing graduation ceremony.

Vice-Chancellor John Dewar said La Trobe has been instrumental in providing significant benefits to the training of nurses in Hong Kong.

‘As a result we have established a strong reputation and network of graduates working in senior position in the health services industry in Hong Kong and overseas,’ says Professor Dewar.

While in Hong Kong, Professor Dewar discussed plans for an expanded institutional partnership that would include La Trobe’s new Research Focus Areas, particularly those dealing with sport and healthy communities.

At Shanghai’s East China Normal University – where connections go back to the 1980s – the University celebrated the 18th birthday of its joint on-shore Diploma Bachelor of Business program.

This, Professor Dewar said, was La Trobe’s longest-standing operating program in mainland China. Students who complete the diploma at ECNU have direct entry into the second year of a business degree on the Melbourne Campus.

Since 1995, more than 2 200 students have gained that diploma, with 1 700 coming to Australia to complete their degree at the Melbourne Campus.

Links with ECNU grew out of a series of Australian Studies Centres founded by the first group of Chinese students returning to China from Australia around the time when La Trobe also ranked second in Australia for the number of its students taking courses wholly on Asia.

‘We have created a very successful staff and student exchange program between our two institutions, the largest of its kind with approximately ten students exchanged each year from both universities,’ Professor Dewar said.

While at the ECNU, he and the University’s President, Dr Chen Qun, discussed developing further educational links in the context of La Trobe’s ‘Future Ready’ strategy.

‘Our plan is to collaborate on more projects in Australian studies, Chinese language, teaching of English to speakers of other languages, education, speech pathology, and sports science,’ Professor Dewar said.

At Tongji University, also in Shanghai, Professor Dewar signed agreements furthering joint high-level research into intelligent transport systems, work led by Professor Jack Singh, Director of La Trobe’s Centre for Technology Infusion.

One of the oldest and most prestigious universities in China, Tongji, established in 1907, excels in fields including automotive and civil engineering, architecture, urban planning, oceanography, environmental science and software engineering.

‘We have had links with Tongji University since the early 1990s, and plan to expand our activities there into areas such as sports management and biomedical research,’ Professor Dewar said.