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China Microblog                                            September 2015                                      Embassy Website

From Minister-Counsellor

These past few months have demonstrated the variety of Australia China education and research cooperation.  I was honoured to attend one of the presentations of our newest Nobel Laureate, Professor Brian Schmidt, who was given a hero’s welcome by students at the Beijing Planetarium – the day before the start of the school year. The Education and Research office has also supported a number of state government, university and school visits and attended the Beijing Foreign Studies University Academic Year Opening Ceremony.

Last week I made my first official visit to Hong Kong to participate in a regional roundtable organised by the APEC Studies Centre at the Hong Kong Institute of Education and jointly supported by the City University of Hong Kong and Lingnan University.  It was wonderful to have the opportunity to discuss issues around the impact of rising international student mobility which has increased from 800,000 students in the mid-1970s to over 4 million students in 2015. I joined experts from Hong Kong, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines who spoke candidly about the opportunities and challenges for regional education hubs, including most notably the need for continued cooperation across our region and beyond on qualifications recognition and frameworks.

Reaffirming the Commitment to Education Cooperation

Australia’s Ambassador to China, Her Excellency Frances Adamson, called on Education Vice Minister Hao Ping to thank him and the Ministry of Education for their role in the success of the first official visit to China of the then Assistant Minister Simon Birmingham (now Minister for Education and Training), and to reaffirm Australia’s commitment to education cooperation with China.

On behalf of Minister Yuan Guiren, Vice Minister Hao Ping extended a warm welcome to Ambassador Adamson and commended her efforts to consolidate and further promote China-Australia education cooperation. Vice Minister Hao Ping emphasised the central role played by education to bilateral relations since the establishment of China-Australia diplomatic ties in 1972.  He said the state visit of President Xi Jinping to Australia last year had further promoted the high-level education cooperation and exchanges between the two countries.

Ambassador Adamson stressed that the Australian Government attached great importance to educational exchanges and cooperation with China. Australia is committed to strengthening cooperation with China on vocational education and to working with China to strengthen two-way mobility, including through the implementation of the New Colombo Plan in China, which will see 900 additional NCP mobility students studying in China in 2016. The recently signed China-Australia Free Trade Agreement will open up further opportunities for education cooperation and exchanges. 

On behalf of the Australian Minister for Education, Ambassador Adamson said that Australia looks forward to hosting Vice Minister Hao Ping’s forthcoming visit to Australia when he is scheduled to lead the Chinese delegation to attend the 6th China-Australian Joint Working Group meeting on Education, Training and Research Cooperation.
Nobel Laureate Encourages Students to Reach for the Stars
Australia’s most recent Nobel Laureate and winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, Professor Brian Schmidt AC, visited Beijing in September ahead of his attendance at the World Economic Forum Meeting of New Champions in Dalian. While in Beijing, Professor Schmidt gave a series of public lectures highlighting the significance of his ground-breaking research. Over 200 passionate students of astronomy attended Professor Schmidt’s presentation on “the Universe from Beginning to End” at the Beijing Planetarium. He also delivered lectures on his Nobel Prize winning research to students and staff at Peking University and the University of the Chinese Academy of Science and to school students at Jingshan School. 

In addition to public lectures, Professor Schmidt also launched the Australia-China Consortium for Astrophysical Research (ACAMAR) - a new “virtual” centre for Australia-China astronomical collaborations.  ACAMAR is also the name of a bright star that is visible with the naked eye from both Australia and China. 

Australia-China cooperation in astronomy goes back to the early 1960s and broader cooperation in science continues to be a significant part of the bilateral relationship.  China is one of Australia's top three-science partners by numbers of joint research publications. There were 15,000 joint research publications produced in partnership between Australian and Chinese researchers in the five years from 2009 to 2013. 

Professor Schmidt was recently announced as the next Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University.  He is due to commence in his new role in January 2016.
School Education Cooperation
Australian and Chinese schools, teachers and school leaders are working more closely together than ever before to provide high quality education opportunities to Chinese school students, to support the professional development of teachers, and to share information on curriculum development. The past few months have seen a number of school education cooperation initiatives that highlight the importance of international exchange. 
In Harbin, the annual Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) in China conference showcased the close cooperation that exists between Chinese schools and schools in Victoria, Australia. The VCE in China conference set the scene for robust academic discussion about education and the importance of 21st Century learning skills.

Group photo of the annual Victorian Certificate of Education in China Conference in Harbin

In August nearly 200 students and teachers from Jiangsu Province visited their Victorian sister-schools, and learned about Australian life and culture. They were also invited to attend a formal reception hosted by the Governor of Victoria at the Government House. The Australian State of Victoria and Jiangsu Province are celebrating 35 years as sister-states this year. Nearly 100 Victorian schools have ties with Jiangsu schools, and over the next five years, 1500 Victorian year-nine students will visit their partner schools in China.

The Australian Embassy also supported the visit to China of the Hon Susan Close MP (South Australian Minister for Education and Child Development), who witnessed the signing of an agreement between the board of the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) and PKU College, to support the delivery of the SACE in Tianjin. During Minister Close’s visit to China, members of her delegation also signed new school agreements with partners located in Jiangsu, Henan, Shanxi and Guangdong. These agreements will support more young Chinese students to study Australian curriculum in schools here in China.

Strong Performance at 43rd WorldSkills International Competition
In August Brazil hosted the 43rd WorldSkills International Competition in São Paulo. The competition is the world's biggest vocational education and skills showcase, promoting the importance of skills education and training by challenging young people around the world to become the best in the skill of their choice. With an increasing global demand for skills, the WorldSkills competition provides an opportunity for exchange on best practice in professional education among industry leaders, governments and education experts.

Another positive outcome of the WorldSkills International Competition is the lasting benefit of the new and strengthened ties between participating countries. China formally joined WorldSkills in 2010 and started preparing for its first international competition in 2011. In the spirit of international cooperation, the Chinese team was able to have a
firsthand demonstration of the competition format when Guy Brooks, a 2011 Australian Skillaroo (the name of the Australian team), attended a training expedition in Beijing during his preparation for the 41st competition.

This year, China sent their largest delegation yet, with 32 participants competing in 29 projects including construction, welding and masonry.  The Australian Skillaroos had 26 participants in 23 trades and skills categories.

Chinese Gold Medal Winner - Welding, Zhengchao Zeng                  Australian Sliver Medal Winner - Jewellery, Jyothi Forman
Photos: courtesy of WorldSkills International

During his recent trip to China, Senator Simon Birmingham committed to strengthening Australia China cooperation on vocational education and training. The strong performance of both the Chinese and the Australian teams at the 43th Worldskills competition shows the world class practical skills of the vocational education systems of our two countries and augurs well for closer future cooperation.
Providing more informed choice for students
This month the Australian Government launched a new website, the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (or QILT), to provide students with independent information to help them to choose the course and the university that is best for them.

The interactive website brings together information from a range of sources, including the University Experience Survey, the Graduate Destination Survey, the Course Experience Questionnaire and the Employer Satisfaction Survey. Prospective students can compare institutions and study areas, based on the results of thousands of surveys completed by current and former students. Future releases on the website will include surveys of employer satisfaction with their graduate employees.
Measuring Quality Outcomes in Higher Education forum
The Australian Government Department of Education and Training along with the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the European Commission Directorate-General for Education and Culture will host a one-day forum: Measuring Quality Outcomes in Higher Education in Singapore on Friday 16 October 2015 at the Australian High Commission. The forum will present a unique opportunity for policy makers and higher education experts to share information on best practices in measuring higher education outcomes from national and international perspectives. Further information
Choosing a University – what are the experts saying?
Education experts and policy makers have recently been engaged in an interesting debate around choosing a university.  Find out what leading education professionals are saying on this topic at:

The Conversation is an independent, not-for-profit media outlet that uses content sources from the academic and research community and publishes in an open source format.
Australians in China - Scott Gigante, New Colombo Plan Fellow
I’m a Bachelor of Science student from the University of Melbourne.  I am currently on exchange at Fudan University in Shanghai as the 2015 New Colombo Plan Fellow for China. Fudan has a strong reputation for Chinese language study and boasts a thriving foreign exchange program, and it is here that I have truly begun my journey in discovering more about China’s rich language, culture and history.

My experience in China has been diverse and in some sense contradictory – I am here to learn the language and yet my classes are exclusive to foreigners; I am the first foreign intern in the Chinese arm of VMware, an American IT firm; 
I am a member of a Chinese cycling team, the core members of whom are French and English; I am making every attempt to assimilate with the Chinese culture and yet everywhere I go I hear calls of “Waiguoren!”

It is the uncanny possibility the coexistence of such contradictions and many more that I believe makes China so beautiful and unique.  In no other country could I at once hold a full-time job, study a full-time course and all the while become a well-known name in amateur cycling races around the country. It is these incredible experiences that I will take home to my peers, and it is my hope that I can share with them my love and enthusiasm for China.
Copyright © 2015 Australian Embassy, Beijing, All rights reserved.

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