La Trobe's international agreements (Issue 35, 2010)


From left to right: Kuwait Cultural Office officials, Mr Saed Hali, Dr Ahmad Alathari and Mr Tarek Elwan

Many might not be aware that La Trobe University has close to 200 agreements with governments, universities and institutions in many different countries. These agreements constitute a basic, formal foundation for the important process of internationalisation, by which La Trobe makes itself better known abroad, increases its academic and research relationships, brings many new students from abroad to its Australian campuses, and diversifies its educational and cultural linkages.

The agreements vary widely in their nature and objectives. Some are general MOUs, signifying a desire for mutual cooperation; some provide for staff and student exchanges; some deal with dual or double degrees between La Trobe and foreign universities; some establish short courses or study tours, a new and growing area of relationships; some set up Study Abroad programs; and some provide for teaching external programs in other countries.

Over a number of years the list of agreements has grown rapidly and indeed without much control or oversight. In 2009 Pam Herman joined the International Relations Office to administer the process and to cull the list for agreements that have become inactive with the passage of time. She has also introduced a system in consultation with the University's Legal Services to oversee the drafting and content of agreements, and to administer the process for gaining approval of agreements. In the past 18 months some 100 new or renewed agreements have been negotiated, with China and Vietnam showing rapid growth.

La Trobe's most numerous partners are in Asia (China, Japan, Vietnam and South Korea), Europe (France, Germany, Sweden, Italy and UK), and the Americas (USA, Canada and Mexico). Different Latin American countries also show up strongly and lately we have begun forging links with new partners in the Middle East.

La Trobe has more than 130 active exchange agreements with other universities, enabling our students to study in other countries as part of their degree courses, and their students to come to our campuses for the same purpose - with no additional fees involved. This program has gained greatly in popularity in recent years: in 2007, 154 of our students went abroad on exchanges and by 2009 this number had risen to 265; reciprocally 149 foreign students came here in 2007 and this number increased to 231 in 2009. In addition, some 323 La Trobe students went abroad on short term programs and placements in 2009. For more information, go to the La Trobe exchange website or visit the Global Lounge, in the Agora.

In addition, the University, including the International College, has 26 active agreements to teach external programs, that is, courses in other parts of Australia (Sydney) and other countries. 18 of the 26 are taught by the faculties of Health Sciences and Law and Management, mostly in Asia - China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Apart from these, the University maintains research specific agreements managed by the Research Office.