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Friday, October 25, 2013, 08:52
Asia Weekly: China and Australia link minds
By Karl Wilson in Sydney

Asia Weekly: China and Australia link minds

The 60,000-square-meter building that houses the Monash-Southeast University graduate school has cutting-edge facilities to support education and future research activities in a range of disciplines from economics to engineering. (AFP)

Monash-Southeast graduate school in Suzhou is first joint venture to offer master’s and PhD programs

Australia’s Monash University has become the first foreign university to be granted a full license to operate a joint graduate school in China with Southeast University (SEU).

The building that is home to the graduate school was officially opened on Oct 24 at Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) near Shanghai.

Melbourne-based Monash University is the third foreign university in more than a decade to be granted a full operating license by the Chinese government, and the first to offer master’s and PhD programs.

“This is quite a significant achievement for us,” Monash University’s vice-chancellor, Ed Byrne, tells China Daily Asia Weekly.

Monash is one of Australia’s leading universities and among the world’s top 100 tertiary institutions while SEU is one of China’s oldest and most respected universities.

Andrew Robb, the Australian minister for trade and investment, and Denis Napthine, the Victorian state premier, joined Byrne and Yi Hong, the president of SEU, for the opening of the modern complex.

The school has already enrolled more than 200 students and will progressively build to a capacity of around 1,500 students within the next couple of years.

It is accepting applications for 2014 master’s courses in information technology systems, industrial design, transportation systems, applied linguistics, and international business.

The 60,000-square-meter building that houses the school has cutting-edge facilities to support education and future research activities in a range of disciplines from economics to engineering.

The school will be complemented by the establishment of a joint research institute to conduct multi-disciplinary research projects in areas of strategic importance to industry in Australia and China, including nanotechnology, bioinformatics, water, energy and light metals.

Both universities have world-recognized strengths in engineering, health and science.

Monash University currently has six local campuses throughout the state of Victoria, as well as two international campuses — Malaysia and South Africa — and international centers in Italy and India, in addition to the new graduate school in Suzhou.

“We are very excited by this venture,” says Byrne.

“Not only does it bring together Monash and Southeast Universities, but other stakeholders including central, provincial and local governments and the private sector in Suzhou.

“Without their support this project would not have got off the ground. It also brings together some of the best and brightest students in China.”

According to Byrne, many of the students will spend part of their time in Australia as part of the program which will focus on global and local research themes that “will not only benefit China but the world in general”.

Situated in SIP, the graduate school sits at the very heart of where China’s ‘clever industry revolution’ is now taking place.

This is where the dream of creating ‘smart cities’ is fast becoming a reality, where schools, hospitals, hotels, administration buildings, restaurants and public transportation systems are all being plugged into a smart grid.

In September, the chairman of SIP, Yang Zhiping, said he believed the day was fast approaching when the power of information will be harnessed in much the same way steam and electricity were in previous eras.

“Information will change the relationship between governments, people, countries and enterprises,” Yang said in a statement.

“And the great thing is, the more you use it, the more efficiency you have. It breaks the isolation between departments, authorities and different entities.”

It is that very philosophy and can-do mindset that has helped SIP muscle its way up the value chain.

As of last year, SIP had attracted $21.6 billion in foreign investment and $42.7 billion in domestic investment since it was created nearly two decades ago as a joint venture project between the Chinese and Singaporean governments.

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