Berlin centre builds Australia's European profile

June 4, 2004

Australia's research-intensive universities are to open a centre in Berlin to promote the exchange of staff and students with European institutions.

It is the first time a small group of Australian institutions has combined forces to establish an offshore centre, although individual universities, including Monash, already operate sites in other countries, including the UK.

Ian Chubb, chair of the Group of Eight universities, and vice-chancellor of the Australian National University, said the Australia Centre Europe would open in July.

He said that it was essential to develop and consolidate links with universities, governments and businesses in Europe to build Australia's research strengths.

"Building a profile for Australian universities in Europe will benefit all Australian institutions, and all universities will be invited to make use of these facilities," he said.

Development of the centre, to be located in the Australian Embassy in Berlin, is the latest in a series of overseas initiatives launched by the group.

The vice-chancellors recently met the presidents of North America's research-led universities at the invitation of the Association of American Universities, a group of 62 institutions devoted to maintaining a strong system of academic research and education.

In March, the Australian vice-chancellors also met the UK's Russell Group during a meeting of the Global Presidents' Forum in Hong Kong.

"Our discussions with colleagues from some of the world's leading universities have demonstrated that Australia's universities are held in high esteem internationally," Professor Chubb said.

"As more universities recognise the importance of international partnerships in leading-edge research, they are looking to strategic alliances with universities of similar values and standing."

He said universities around the world were also encouraging international undergraduate placements. Harvard and Stanford universities have announced that in future all their graduates will have an overseas study experience.

"For our students too, the overseas experience is an important goal and a broad spectrum of exchanges will be facilitated through effective partnerships."

Professor Chubb said the search for a centre director had begun and that the centre would be formally launched in autumn.

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