Sydney strengthens research links with China

13 May 2011

Sydney's relationship with China has been deepened and strengthened by the recent visit of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).

Professor Jill Trewhella represented the University at the Australia China Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum held in Beijing in April.

Professor Jill Trewhella (right) in China.
Professor Jill Trewhella (right) in China.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, also attended the Forum and emphasised the interdependence of China and Australia. In her speech she identified Sydney's new China Studies Centre as a significant development 'bringing together the wide array of research disciplines at the University with extensive engagement with China'.

The China Studies Centre brings together academics from disciplines across the University who are studying aspects of China and Chinese culture or who are collaborating with Chinese colleagues. These collaborations deal with common issues - such as the management of global health problems - that have local implications and contribute to the societal impact of chronic disease.

During the Tourism, Research, Development and Innovation session, Professor Trewhella detailed the University's existing strong links with China and outlined emerging and potential areas of exchange and engagement. This included proposed annual China-Australia dialogues that would bring together business, government and academics to discuss common problems and experiences.

"Australia already enjoys strong links with China in specific areas, with those in the mining sector often emphasised. However, there are many emerging areas for exchange, such as the growing tourism exchange, research collaboration, and education. The University of Sydney's existing broad-based academic exchange with China provides an important foundation for expanding and diversifying our interactions", said Professor Trewhella

"Our high quality education offerings are important to China's need for growing its skilled workforce and their significant investments in science and medicine, forecast to increase 20% annually, will only increase the opportunities for research collaboration. Through our China Studies Centre, we are committed to broadening understanding between our two cultures through our academic links with China and engaging in conversation and development of solutions to common problems that will enhance interactions in spheres beyond academia.

Whilst in China Professor Trewhella also attended the Global Summit of University Presidents (GSPU) and Tsinghua University's centenary celebrations.

Cooperation, collaboration and interdisciplinary research emerged as themes from the Global Summit of University Presidents (GSUP), and 'Four Cs' were identified as key functions of universities in the future:

  1. Cooperation with other universities to advance human knowledge and higher learning
  2. Cultivation of future leaders to enhance the prosperity and progress of the international society
  3. Contribution to the solution of global challenges in energy security, public health, climate change, sustainable development and so on; and
  4. Creation of a synergy among the higher education community to promote cultural interaction for a better tomorrow.

The GSPU meeting heard speeches by university leaders from across the world, and had opportunities for group discussions on university governance, interdisciplinary research development, the social responsibilities of universities and trends in international collaboration.

Professor Trewhella outlined the direction of the University's newly established China Studies Centre, emphasising the benefits of collaborative research.

"Academic activity has become globalised. There is increased competition for high quality academics and students that drives universities to improve the quality of their offerings in education and to provide competitive research infrastructure. This intense competition means that collaboration is more likely to be successful when it is strategic and all parties benefit so the relationships are sustainable".

Professor Trewhella pointed out the wider societal benefits of collaborative research.

"Collaboration has a valuable social side to it; among the large numbers of students and researchers that come to Australia, and vice versa, we know that many will return to their homelands and nourish a sustainable and deepening relationship", she said.