Strategy Five (August 2012 update)

Expand and diversify opportunities for students to develop as global citizens

Promoting the University’s position in the international academic community is fundamental to all that we do, from education and research to alumni and community engagement. We aim to create more opportunities for our students to engage in research and education outside Australia, to develop our students as global citizens, and to ensure that staff and students who come to the University from overseas find an environment that values the contribution they can make.

We have created new international exchange opportunities for students and staff through our engagement with international networks, scholarships and fellowships. We have also worked with governments and international agencies to promote and facilitate international collaboration in education and research while advancing the University’s reputation globally.

5(a) Build on international exchange opportunities for our students and international experience for our staff.

Our continued international networking initiatives facilitate our participation in global research programs linked to key areas of University research and education, for example public health1 (particularly obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes), food security2 and cultural understanding. In turn, these partnerships provide opportunities for international mobility for students and academic staff, access to facilities and expertise around the world, and enhanced funding opportunities. For example, the University has received at least $14 million in external funding tied to specific research projects from our Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) engagement. Since January 2011, 12 students have travelled overseas for international research projects or conferences thanks to our WUN and bilateral partnerships; nine of them went to Asia and three to the United Kingdom.

The International Program Development Fund (IPDF), which fosters international collaboration and academic mobility by funding an average of 50 projects per year in more than 20 countries, was commended in the final report of the 2011 audit by the Australian Universities Quality Agency as “a highly effective mechanism for facilitating and promoting international research, collaborations and scholarship”. A 2011 report on the IPDF’s return on investment showed that the University had invested $2.7 million in the IPDF since 2006. Evaluation of grant recipients indicates that around 85 percent considered IPDF funding had played a significant role in enabling access to subsequent external funding, which across all recipients totalled more than $42 million dollars since IPDF launch.

5(b) Finalise the implementation of the Second Language Acquisition project.
Progress on the implementation of the Second Language Acquisition Project has been suspended for the present. Although the project was quite advanced in planning in 2011, it became clear that significant expenditure would be needed to implement. SEG decided that funding should not be allocated at this stage due to budgetary constraints.

5(c) Expand the number of World Scholars Program scholarships to attract the best PhD students from priority countries.

We have refocused the World Scholars Program in light of financial limitations: rather than increase the number of scholarships, we have decided to increase the value of each stipend. We continue to attract high-quality candidates from countries targeted in line with our regional priorities (these candidates are assessed by the same criteria used for Australian Postgraduate Awards). There are 22 World Scholars enrolled at the University at present, with seven due to graduate shortly.

5(d) Introduce a World Fellows Program for short-term visits by leading international academics and public figures.

The International Forum and World Fellows programs provide a platform to present the University as a global thought-leader. The International Forum series (as with all Sydney World Program activities, see strategy 13) is aligned with the strategic plan’s regional prioritisation and has catalysed research partnerships and resources by engaging funding bodies such as international agencies (World Bank, Asian Development Bank), AusAID and the OECD (with which we are one of only three universities globally to be a ‘knowledge partner’). Recent highlights have included regional forums on China, India and Africa, and thematic forums with the Australian government, the OECD, Asian Development Bank and others, attracting participation from senior government ministers, high-level academic partners and engagement across the faculties.

5(e) Complete and implement the project on Appointments for Overseas Academics to facilitate the fractional appointment of academic staff also employed at an overseas university.

In 2012, we introduced new guidelines for faculties wishing to appoint an academic to serve part of the year in Sydney and part in their own overseas institution. Several fractional appointments have been made in the Faculty of Law, the US Studies Centre and the School of Information Technology.

The additional engagement options provide scope for overseas academics to come to Sydney and contribute to the University’s teaching and research programs in a flexible manner, without significant disruption to their employment with their home university. Staff will benefit from exposure to research and education in different higher education systems, while at an institutional level the University as a whole will be able to leverage greater inter-university collaborations through new peer-to-peer connections.

5(f) Pursue new funding opportunities to build capacity for international engagement and exchange.

From January 2011 to June 2012, the International Agencies and Government programs secured more than $38 million in scholarships and fellowships in external revenue to the University, including more than $7 million in AusAID funding to support more than 320 incoming fellowships and professional service programs for faculties.

1. For example, a partnership with Southampton and Auckland universities to study early-life opportunities for the prevention of non-communicable diseases.
2. For example, a partnership with Alberta, Penn State and Southampton universities to examine the economic impacts on food security of climate change and invasive species.