Sydney goes to Shanghai

23 October 2008

The University has stepped up its campaign to win hearts and minds in mainland China, hosting its biggest-ever program of overseas events in the financial capital Shanghai.

Dr Michael Spence interviewed on Shanghai TV.
Dr Michael Spence interviewed on Shanghai TV.

The focal point of the program, a graduation ceremony and alumni reception in the city centre, was attended by more than 200 Chinese students and their families, who had recently passed though University of Sydney degree programs.

Since its first graduation ceremony in the city two years ago, the University has been busy building relationships and connections in the Shanghai region - networks known to the Chinese as guanxi.

Over four days last week, 57 of the University's senior executives, academics and research leaders discussed research links, student exchange and scholarships. Led by the Chancellor, Professor Marie Bashir, and the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Michael Spence, the group engaged in a round of meetings with government officials and their counterparts at Fudan and Shanghai Jiaotong universities.

On his first visit to China as Vice-Chancellor, Dr Spence had a private lunch with the Mayor of Shanghai, Han Zheng and also appeared before an audience of millions on Shanghai TV's prime time news bulletin, giving a 10-minute interview.

At Fudan University, Dr Spence delivered a public lecture as part of its University of Sydney Day activities. A new event, this was Sydney's largest-ever joint activity with an overseas university.

Dr Spence, who is learning to speak Mandarin, said he was impressed by the energy of China's biggest and wealthiest city. 

"We came to Shanghai not just to recruit students, although we are always looking to attract the best students from China," he said. "We are here because we want to build up a lasting relationship with China, through research collaborations and academic interactions."

The developing relationship has already brought more than 3,900 Chinese students to study at Sydney in 2008 - by far the biggest group of overseas students at the University, and a 60 per cent rise over the past four years.

Professor John Hearn, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International) said the current fall in value of the dollar could make Australia an even more attractive proposition for Chinese students.

"Quality of research and teaching counts for most, but cost is certainly a factor," he said. "The rise of the Australian dollar in the last few years is now reversing, so we expect to receive more applications from international students if other aspects of the financial seesaw do not neutralise the cost advantage."

From Shanghai the Sydney delegation moved to Hong Kong for a second graduation ceremony and further meetings with leading universities.

Contact: Mandy Sacher

Phone: 02 911 40622

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