News

Dr Michael Spence, VC, in the Australian Financial Review: CSC seeks partnership model


15 February 2012

Australian Financial Review, Page: 28
By Rachel Lebihan
Monday, 13 February 2012


The University of Sydney is no longer hopeful of a substantial cash injection from the federal government to fund its China Studies Centre despite the government donating $53 million to the Australian National University's China in the World Centrein 2010.

Last year, Sydney's vice~chancellor, Michael Spence, called for a similar government contribution.

But he told The Australian Financial Review recently that the centre was developing China strategies for the NSW government and the City of Sydney and exploring "various kinds of contract work" with the federal government.

"The federal government have made it clear that ... [it] has just invested a significant amount of money in the ANU China studies centre and it's not going to do that again," Dr Spence "But the federal government does know that there is extraordinary expertise here at the university and several government departments, including Treasury, have expressed a willingness to work with us ." The university will invest $10 million in the centre, which prepares a regular China business update with KPMG.

As well as undertaking academic research it will provide government, public and business education some of which will generate income, he said.

A recruitment drive has resulted in two lecturers in China studies being appointed last year. Other appointments due to be announced include a director and an academic director, as well as a chair of Chinese law and a lectureship in Chinese literature and culture.

The centre is currently recruiting professors and lecturers in modern Chinese history, ancient Chinese history, Chinese literature and culture, Chinese law, and public health.

The centre was established to bring together between 130 and 140 academics who are studying contemporary China across the university.

Dr.Spence said faculties were being encouraged to make joint appointments with the centre.

The centre's aim is to work with the Chinese on issues, including public health and enterprise development.

"Whereas some universities see China as a phenomenon to be studied, we are looking for a partnership model," he said.

"We are interested in rolling up our sleeves with China and working on the issues that China faces" something the Chinese have recognised and are encouraging, he said. The university already has a number of research partnerships with Chinese institutions and the centre is developing others.

The centre's acting head, David Goodman, said agreements had been signed with Fudan University and with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"We're looking at other universities at the moment, in particular Nanjing University and more tentativelyone in west China, but we're not sure which one yet," Professor: Goodman said.

"What we've also started recently is our science and technology program where we're funding people and organising people here who are doing research in the science and technology areas to be involved with Australians going into the China market.., the commercial market or the research and development market." Areas highlighted for that program include urban sustainability, health and investment and banking. Dr Spence said it was a great time to be involved in higher education in China "not least because the Chinese are so interested in higher education at the moment.

"But China is so much a part of the future of Australia. It's already 25 per cent of our GDP." The centre is seeking philanthropic support. Dr Spnce said there had been some "smaller gifts" but no "big announcement".