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Universities start to adapt for the “Asian Century”

Several Australian universities have launched initiatives following the government’s white paper on adapting in the “Asian Century”, published on 28 October.

The University of New South Wales has appointed a director to lead on its China strategy within its international department. Laurie Pearcey, the former chief executive of the Australia China Business Council, will work to build research collaborations with partners in China.

“China has embarked on the largest investment in research and development in the history of our planet and has identified areas such as renewable energy, the digital economy, biotechnology and bimolecular sciences as major sectors for growth,” he said in a statement. “UNSW’s position as a research intensive university with strengths in these areas means we are an obvious partner for China’s growth.”

Meanwhile, the University of Western Australia is to run scholarships for Indonesian culture and language studies. Starting from 2013, the university will offer Boediono scholarships, named after the vice-president of Indonesia. Up to four scholarships worth $5,000 will be made available each year.

The “Australia in the Asian Century” white paper outlines Australia’s position in the context of rising economic, scientific and political influence from Asia. The policy roadmap highlights the need for teaching Asian languages in schools, mandatory Asia-related curricula, stronger research links with countries in the region, and more students undertaking part of their degrees in Asia. However, no specific funding has been allocated to achieve these goals.