Update: Research and Education Division, Australian Embassy Beijing

Message from the Minister Counsellor

2015 closed with the release of Australia’s National Innovation and Science Agenda which includes a Global Innovation Strategy to improve Australia’s international innovation and science collaboration.  We also had the release of the 2015 results of the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA), which demonstrates the continued research excellence of Australian universities.

It was also great to see that China continues to be a top study destination for Australian university students with the Foreign Minister, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, announcing the New Colombo Plan Scholars for 2016.  Universities in mainland China will host 9 scholars of the prestigious scholarship category.

As we get ready to farewell the year of the Goat and greet the year of the Monkey, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our Chinese and Australian readers a happy and healthy New Year from the Education and Research team in the Australian Embassy in Beijing.


National Innovation and Science Agenda

Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull and the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, launched the National Innovation and Science Agenda on 7 December 2015.

The Agenda is a comprehensive suite of initiatives to enable Australia to seize the next wave of prosperity by embracing new ideas through innovation and science.

The Agenda focuses on four key pillars:

  • Taking the leap: backing Australian entrepreneurs by opening up new sources of finance, embracing risk, taking on innovative ideas, and making more of our public research.
  • Working together: increasing collaboration between industry and researchers to find solutions to real world problems and to create jobs and growth.
  • Best and brightest: developing and attracting world-class talent for the jobs of the future.
  • Leading by example: the Australian Government will lead by example; embracing innovation and agility in the way we do business.

For more information visit www.innovation.gov.au.

$A1.1 billion of key measures were announced as part of the NISA package.  These measures will deliver new sources of growth, maintain high-wage jobs and seize the next wave of economic prosperity in Australia.


Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2015 outcomes and cooperation with China

In December 2015, the Australian Research Council released the results of the 2015 round of the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA). The 2015 round is the third iteration of the ERA process, with earlier reports released in 2010 and 2012.

ERA is the quality assurance mechanism for Australia’s investment in university research. ERA measures the quality of research produced by Australian universities against world standards. It uses expert review of a broad range of indicators of research, both quantitative and qualitative, to provide ratings of discipline areas in each university.

Discipline areas are defined by the Australian and New Zealand Research Standard Classification (ANZSRC) for broad fields and specific fields of research. The 2015 ERA includes assessments of quality for 142 specific fields of research (out of a possible 157), and all 22 broad fields of research.

The ERA expert committees provided ratings for each university’s performance in relevant specific and broad fields of research (not every Australian university conducts research across all broad fields of research) on a five point scale, ranging from 1 (well below world standard) through to 3 (at world standard) to 5 (well above world standard). ERA is designed to identify research strengths within universities and nationally, and to highlight areas where there are opportunities for further development. It is important to note that ERA is not a ranking system of Australian universities. The performance measures are discipline-specific and benchmarked to world standards, and each rating is an independent assessment of performance.

The ERA 2015 outcomes show that Australia’s universities produce high quality research across a wide range of disciplines and that the overall research quality is improving compared with the outcomes of the 2012 ERA. This reflects the role ERA has in encouraging universities to focus on research quality.

ERA also helps identify areas of particular research strength – meaning specific disciplines where ten or more Australian universities were rated at above world standard or higher, including four or more Australian universities rated at well above world standard. Consistent with the strong overall improvement of research quality, the number of Australian disciplinary strengths has increased from the previous ERA rounds to 43 specific disciplines (out of the 142 specific disciplines assessed).

A wide variety of disciplines are represented in these national strengths – from basic sciences, engineering, to the humanities – including: pure and applied mathematics; astronomical and space sciences; macromolecular and materials chemistry; soil sciences; plant biology; civil engineering; clinical sciences; nursing; business and management; cultural studies; historical studies; philosophy and law, with 12 national research strengths in the broad field of medical and health sciences alone (Australia has a long history of strength in medical and health science research, including eight Nobel Prizes in Physiology and Medicine since 1945).

The 2015 ERA has results for all 40 of Australia’s universities, plus the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education. Focusing on the 40 universities, the outcomes show that 24 universities have at least one broad field of research rated at well above world standard, with a further 13 with at least one broad field rated at above world standard, and three with at least one broad field rated at world standard.  This demonstrates through rigorous and independent assessment that world class research is being produced across every one of Australia’s universities.

The ERA 2015 data also shows that Australian universities have opportunities to improve the commercial returns from their research, benefiting from increased focus and additional policy incentives under the new National Innovation and Science Agenda to improve research commercialisation.

Australian universities are actively engaging in research collaboration with China’s increasingly internationalising universities. Australian universities have more than 1200 formal agreements with Chinese universities, with the majority of these involving academic and research collaboration, as well as 115 Ministry of Education approved joint programs and three Ministry of Education approved joint institutions with Chinese universities at the bachelor level or above.

China is Australia’s third most frequent partner for collaboration in scientific research, based on the number of joint scientific publications. The number of papers involving Chinese and Australian authors published annually more than doubled between 2009 and 2013.

Under the Australia-China Science and Research Fund, the Australian Government supports strategic science, technology and innovation collaboration between Australia and China. The Australian Government has committed $10 million over four years from 2014-15 to support the participation of Australian researchers in agreed joint activities, with the Chinese government providing matching funding to its researchers.


The 10th Confucius Institute Conference in Shanghai

A large delegation of Australian Directors of Confucius Institutes and Classrooms attended the 10th Confucius Institute Conference in Shanghai, where New South Wales Department of Education, University of New South Wales’ Confucius Classroom Ravenswood School for Girls and Vice-Chancellor of University of Queensland Peter Høj were awarded prizes for outstanding Confucius Institute of the year, Outstanding Confucius Classroom of the year and Outstanding Individual of the Year respectively. Australia has 14 Confucius Institutes and 60 Confucius Classrooms offering a diverse range of Chinese language and culture programs, across Australia.


New Colombo Plan Scholars for 2016 

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, and the Minister for Tourism and International Education, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, announced the continued expansion of the New Colombo Plan under the 2016 scholarship round.

China will welcome nine of Australia’s best and brightest undergraduate students as New Colombo Plan scholars in 2016! New Colombo Plan scholarships are highly prestigious, with only 100 awarded in 2016, and recognise students’ exceptional academic performance, community engagement and commitment to deepening relationships with our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific including China.

We look forward to welcoming the new scholars to China in the Year of the Monkey!


Welcome new BHP Billiton Chair of Australian Studies – Professor Gregory McCarthy

Last year we farewelled Professor David Walker, the inaugural BHP Billiton Chair of Australian Studies at Peking University, and his amazing wife Associate Professor Karen Walker. David and Karen have become dear friends of the education and research team over the years and will be sadly missed. However, they will continue to work closely with colleagues in the expanding Australian Studies Centres network and already have a number of projects on the go with Chinese colleagues.

Australian Studies Centres in China continued to expand under Professor Walker’s leadership and support. There are now 34 Australian Studies Centre located across China, including the most recently opened centre in the Harbin Institute of Technology.

Professor Walker will be followed in the new year by Professor Gregory McCarthy who has a strong background in Australian politics and deep experience in bringing together Australian and Chinese scholars. Professor McCarthy was the Head of the School of Social Sciences and Director of International Engagement for the Faculty of Arts at the University of Adelaide. At the same time as taking up his new duties in Beijing, Professor McCarthy will join the University of Western Australia as Professor of political science in the Faculty of Arts.

We look forward to welcoming Professor Gregory McCarthy and to supporting him and the Chinese Australian Studies community to further strengthen our partnership in this important field of academic and cultural endeavour.


My Journey through the Endeavour Award –  Ms Haiqing Wang

I consider myself to be very lucky. First, I won an Australian Leadership Award Fellowships (ALAF) in 2007 to gain one of the twelve places for Chinese fellows to undertake the one-year program, “Chinese Disease Control and Prevention Leadership Program” at Griffith University. I then applied successfully to get an Endeavour Executive Award in 2012 to go to Griffith University again to develop an empowerment strategy to reduce migrant workers’ occupational disease risks. At Griffith University, I was most fortunate to study under Professor Cordia Chu, a well-known, visionary public health leader who became my supervisor, my mentor, and my life-long friend.

The Endeavour Award has given me a golden opportunity not only to learn cutting-edge professional knowledge and skills, but has also enriched my personal growth. I was able to experience Australian culture, beautiful places and wonderful friends. Indeed, the Award has enabled me to develop an international and national professional network that has been invaluable for my career.

During my time in Australia, apart from improving my knowledge by working with Australian public health experts, I was involved in an Australia-China collaboration on a workplace health and safety capacity-enhancement project funded by the Australia-China Council. I became a member of a Chinese expert team to translate a very useful Australian text “Principles of Occupational Health and Hygiene” into a Chinese version. The book was published in China in 2011 and has since become a widely-used capacity-building tool in training workshops for occupational health practitioners. Moreover, to share what I learned from Australia with my colleagues, I published the paper, “Analysis of Data Collection Systems for Work-related Injuries and Diseases in Queensland, Australia.”

My Endeavour Award has brought me a lot of opportunities and professional advancements.  I was nominated as a professional expert on occupational health and safety by the Shanghai Administration of Work Safety Department in 2012, adjunct supervisor to masters research students at the Public Health Institute of Fudan University in 2014, national professional expert on occupational health and safety by the State Administration of Work Safety in 2015, and as an expert on the Shanghai Labour Union’s “Ergonomic Checkpoints” program.

Finally, I miss Australia and would like very much to work closely with Australian friends in the future.


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