Cranfield takes skill down under

June 30, 2006

Cranfield University is to be the first British institution to establish a base in Australia.

The specialist defence establishment is expected to conclude an agreement shortly with the South Australian Government on setting up a campus in Adelaide. Cranfield academics will begin offering short courses next year jointly with the University of South Australia.

Frank Hartley, Cranfield's vice-chancellor, told The Times Higher that he was delighted to have the opportunity to extend the university's existing, significant relationships in Australia.

Cranfield has close ties with the Australian Department of Defence and local defence companies. More than 20 Australian military officers are enrolled at its campus in Shrivenham.

Professor Hartley said Cranfield's expertise in postgraduate research and teaching in the defence sector was recognised as among the best in the world.

"We have been providing the academic component of the Ministry of Defence's educational programme at the Defence Academy in the UK since 1984, which conveys a unique understanding of the complex issues relating to defence and security across the globe," he said.

In Adelaide, Cranfield plans to offer postgraduate degrees "relevant to Australia's defence interests" while developing teaching and research partnerships with other universities, including the University of South Africa and the American newcomer Carnegie Mellon University.

Mike Rann, South Australian premier, said a great advantage of Cranfield was that it shared a campus with the Defence Academy's Royal Military College of Science and specialised in radar, systems engineering, electro-optic and weapons effects.

"Cranfield delivers the skills that we need to develop in South Australia if we are to continue winning more defence and high-tech engineering contracts into the future," Mr Rann said.

Denise Bradley, UniSA vice-chancellor, said that the two universities had been collaborating for the past three years and had submitted joint tenders for defence projects in Australia.

"We have signed a memorandum of understanding with Cranfield aimed at developing a broader relationship," Professor Bradley said. "Two of my senior academics were in Britain earlier this month discussing offering joint programmes in 2007."

While Cranfield will be the first British university to run courses in Australia, Bristol University also held discussions with the state Government over a proposal that is believed to involve a new law school in Adelaide.

Heriot-Watt University has applied for registration to operate as a foreign university in New South Wales. Heriot-Watt will offer online MBA degrees to Australians through its Edinburgh Business School.

The move by Cranfield and Bristol follows the opening last month of two campuses by Carnegie Mellon in Adelaide. The state Government allocated A$20 million (£8 million) to Carnegie Mellon over four years to set up the two centres. One will run postgraduate courses in public policy and management, the second will offer a masters in entertainment technology.

But Mr Rann ruled out providing similar sums to entice British or American institutions to his state, although he said he was in talks with another US university.

The premier said his Government intended to establish Adelaide as a "university city of the future". This meant attracting overseas universities that complemented the three existing public universities and met the research and training needs of future growth industries.

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