China opportunities put UNSW ahead of Sydney's elite institutions


By Christian Edwards (Xinhua) SYDNEY, May 8 -- Despite Sydney being named the most popular city in the world for international university students this week, experts here have questioned Australia's capacity to provide a 360-degree learning experience for Chinese students, with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) singled out as the lead university striking new ground on becoming a truly "China Ready" institution.

UNSW's proactive Confucius Institute was lauded last week for initiating work experience opportunities with Melbourne university and the ANZ bank for international students moving to Australia to study.

Laurie Pearcey, former chief executive of the Australia China Business Council and current head of China strategy and development at UNSW said the initiative was an important platform to preparing students for career success.

"It's all very well for us to talk the talk of graduate employability but universities need to be actively pursuing industry partnerships that will align student career development with the real needs of companies working in both China and Australia," Pearcey said.

"As the Australian government elevates student internship opportunities and time spent in Asia as a centerpiece of its foreign policy, it's equally important for us to provide an outcomes oriented student experience for the tens of thousands of Chinese students enrolled in Australian universities."

Henry Makeham, the founder and chair of the Australia-China Youth Dialogue told Xinhua that other Australian universities needed to take the initiative towards ensuring Chinese students have the opportunity to gain purposeful professional opportunities during their studies.

"It's not enough just to take the money and run. Leadership is required, and I think that's what we're finally getting with this kind of cooperation," Makeham said.

Global consultancy firm A.T. Kearney placed Sydney, home to an estimated 50,000 international students, at the top of its 2014 Global Cities Index.

More than 300,000 international students are studying across the country, according to Universities Australia, with Chinese students representing four out of every 10 international students.

UNSW was the first university in the world to receive a QS Five Star Plus rating in the areas of graduate employability, teaching, learning environment, facilities, culture, internationalization, innovation, engagement and research. Vice-Chancellor Fred Hilmer's focus on life after university has shaken the national response to higher learning.

The fact that UNSW has produced more millionaire graduates than any other Australian universities, is also certain not to have been missed by the competitive international student market, experts here say.

Christopher Shields, head of International Segments at ANZ told Xinhua: "There are many challenges international students face when settling into a new country, as they adapt to a new culture and look for work experience opportunities.

"We're pleased to be partnering with the Confucius Institutes to deliver international students with an exciting opportunity to gain exposure at the Confucius Institutes and ANZ, and help them develop a first-hand understanding of what it's like working in Australia," Shields said.

More than 230,000 international students were enrolled in Australian higher education institutions at the end of 2013 more than 40 percent of them were from China.

China's essential position in Australia's international student market is reflected when compared with the second largest source country, Malaysia, whose higher education students are at just 7 percent.

The alignment of UNSW with ANZ has helped streamline the difficult cultural and practical challenges that need circumnavigation even before arriving in Sydney. While ANZ has developed a number of tools and resources including the ability to open a bank account in China, before leaving their home, UNSW has built up an intra-regional communication capability, from engaging with Chinese voices through its massive Weibo subscriptions or the China-Ready motto that has made UNSW a popular goal for competitive Chinese students.

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