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The Australian: Alliance seeks global connection

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From The Australian by Andrew Trounson

A new alliance of technical universities will aim to develop a global brand based around the work readiness of their graduates and their applied research.

The Australian Technology Network and UK-based University Alliance also aim to create mutual student internships and collaborate to bid for global industry research funds in an agreement signed in Sydney yesterday.

University Alliance chair Steve West said the agreement highlights the growing importance of international alliances and cooperation to compete globally as government investment in the west dries and China’s is accelerating.

“It is a global knowledge economy and you can’t try to control it,” Professor West said.

Professor West, who is also the vice-chancellor of the University of the West England in Bristol, believes there is potential for universities to cooperate in overseas expansions and creating attractive course offerings and work placement opportunities.

“No university can deliver the full menu,” he said.

“Vice-chancellors are interested in greater leverage on the international stage,” he said. “It is about networking and aligning to compete and attracting industry support.”

Professor West’s commitment to industry engagement is underlined by his position as president of the Bristol chamber of commerce.

ATN executive director Vicki Thomson said the opportunity to expand work placements and internships was a particular attraction of a partnership with the 24-member Alliance.

“We could put together a program around global mobility of internships,” Ms Thomson said.

Both Professor West and Ms Thomson said it may be only a matter of time before prestigious Chinese universities were setting up campuses around the world to attract the best students and scarce industry research dollars.

“We can’t sit back and think we have the Asian market sewn up. We haven’t,” Ms Thomson said.

Under the MoU the two groups aim to hold a policy dialogue in 2014 focused on partnerships in Asia, regulation and quality assurance, student visas, internships, business collaboration and student fee models and income contingent loan programs.

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