Charis Palmer, Editor, The Conversation. Interviewed: Michael Gallagher, Executive Director at Group of Eight Australia; James Laurenceson, Senior Lecturer, School of Economics at University of Queensland. A newly extended alliance between the Group of Eight coalition of Australian universities and the China 9 universities is helping to build “globally mobile students” says Go8 executive director Michael Gallagher. But competing with elite universities from the United States will remain a challenge, says one China expert, as Chinese students continue to choose universities based on reputation and rankings.
“If we’re going to compete on elitism we will always lose to the US,” said James Laurenceson, who is president of the Chinese Economics Society Australia, and a senior lecturer in economics at University of Queensland.
The Group of 8 and China 9 recently reviewed what has been a five-year relationship, and plan to expand on and strengthen the partnership over the next five years. Mutual credit recognition between the institutions, so that students from any of the institutions can complete some of their study at overseas universities, is a critical component of the alliance, Mr Gallagher said.
“If you want globally mobile students with a global outlook then you need to have these group relationships to get agreements for credit recognition,” Mr Gallagher said.
He said the alliance would measure its success by looking at numbers of highly cited co-authored publications, research collaboration and co-investment, and the degree to which there are two-way exchanges of students of staff. Dr Laurenceson said it’s good to have these types of agreements, but he is unsure how effective they will be in creating bilateral student flows.
“Top universities in China are being courted by the top 20 in the world…It would be naive of us to think that the Group of 8 means more to an elite Chinese university than Harvard or Stanford.”
The alliance renewal comes amid the latest Academic Ranking of World Universities, with more Australian universities now ranked in the top 100.
American and British universities continued to dominate the top 10, however Chinese universities are rising in the rankings.
“When you’re trying to network with Chinese institutions you’ve got to network with universities who are basically on parity with you,” Dr Laurenceson said.
For example, Dr Laureceson said, even though UQ ranks ahead of many Chinese universities, he would recommend it link with the best university in a province.