The Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee has signed an historic exchange agreement with China.
AVCC president John Niland went to Beijing to sign the agreement on behalf of Australian universities with Li Tao, president of the Chinese Education Association for International Exchange.
Professor Niland said the main areas of cooperation include information sharing, university staff and student exchanges as well as research exchange programmes, mutual recognition of qualifications, and staff development.
"The potential for Australia's universities created by the signing of this agreement is enormous, especially in terms of internationalising staff and student exchanges," he said.
"To be at the leading edge, Australia's universities increasingly must tap into global networks of knowledge. Our links with the United States and Europe have historically been strong, and our links with other parts of Asia have developed rapidly in the past decade. With this agreement, Australia has moved still closer to achieving the fully internationalised system we need in the years ahead."
The AVCC and the CEAIE agreed to establish a joint working group to develop and implement specific programmes of cooperation. The signing of the agreement was followed by major seminars in Beijing and Shanghai on education in the two countries, and an official dinner to welcome the AVCC hosted by Zhou Yuanqing, Chinese deputy education minister.
There are already 300 institution-to-institution links between Australian and Chinese universities and almost all of the 38 universities here are involved in some form of staff exchange or academic collaboration with the Chinese.
Deakin University in Melbourne recently announced that Chinese students in Beijing would be able to enrol in a master of professional accounting degree run by Deakin and with the backing of the Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants.