Western Australia is enjoying an unprecedented economic boom built on huge Chinese demand for iron ore and gas. Looking beyond the boom, The University of Western Australia is building important partnerships within China in the areas of science and technology.
By the year 2020, 60 per cent of China’s future economic growth will come from science and technology, according to the Chinese Government’s 15 year strategic plan published last year.
Professor George Stewart believes science and technology are fundamental to the future growth and development of the Chinese economy and that science education will grow in importance as a result.
“The common perception of Australia’s role in the development of China seems to be as a supplier of minerals and raw materials,” Professor Stewart said.
“Similarly, in the educational context, China is often seen as merely ‘supplying’ Australia with international students and hence tuition fees. This perception reflects a short-term focus on economic gain and overlooks the tremendous opportunities and potential inherent in a more far-sighted bilateral partnership: an approach centered on the pursuit of global excellence through collaborative efforts in selected areas of research and training.”
Professor Stewart first recognised these untapped opportunities in China during his visit in 2004 as a delegate to the Australian Vice-Chancellor’s Higher Education conference.
Later that year, an agreement between UWA and Zhejiang University was signed, and in 2005 UWA sent Science and Engineering delegations to Zhejiang University.
The Faculty of Life and Physical Sciences has fostered links with Zhejiang University, today ranked as number three on the list of the top universities across China.
Similarly - from the Chinese perspective - Zhejiang University’s association with UWA as a top-ranking Australian university represents an attractive alliance and adds to its prestige.In its pursuit of global excellence, UWA only considers joint research activities with a handful of institutions.Examples of collaborative research projects include:
Based on Professor Stewart’s experience, guanxi’ (relationships) are key factors in determining the likely success of a collaborative project with China. Given the good rapport and support between the State Government of Western Australia and the provincial government of Zhejiang, it is not surprising that this rapport also shapes Professor Stewart’s view of education in this context.
“Education links are part of helping develop the State’s relationship with China. Raising the profile of UWA raises the profile of Western Australia,” he said.
With its impressive mix of strong relationships, collaborative research projects and world-class research expertise, UWA has positioned itself to forge high-quality long-term partnerships with Chinese institutions to produce benefits and desired outcomes for both countries - now and in the future.
CRICOS Code: 00126G