Australian spirit of learning

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 May, 2012, 12:00am


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For a country with a relatively small population, Australia boasts an impressive list of innovations that have made a positive contribution to the welfare of people around the world. This list includes the invention of the black box flight recorder, WiFi internet and the bionic ear, as well as the development of a vaccine for cervical cancer, the pioneering of IVF technology, and the discovery of penicillin.

Having also educated 11 Nobel Prize winners over the past century, in the fields of medicine, science and literature, it is easy to understand why Australian universities are renowned around the world for the quality of their teaching and research.

'Australia is a home of innovative thinkers. Australian universities are educating the leaders of the future. Our graduates and researchers are leading ground-breaking developments that are shaping today, and preparing us for tomorrow,' explains Linda Yan, trade commissioner at the Australian Trade Commission in Hong Kong.

'Our universities have strong links to institutions all over the world - especially within Asia - as well as active research collaboration, global alumni networks, and co-operative relationships between staff and students that enable postgraduate students to become globally connected, both personally and professionally.'

It was Australia's international reputation as an educational leader in medical sciences that attracted Shirley Ngai, a PhD graduate from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, to conduct her postdoctoral research into cardiopulmonary physiotherapy, at the University of Sydney.

'The well-developed healthcare hierarchy, exceptional patient education, disease management and research excellence in cardiopulmonary physiotherapy in Australia were the main reasons that attracted me to apply to do my research there,' Ngai says.

The high level of support generally offered to international postgraduate students by Australian universities both surprised and pleased Elaine Wong while completing a master's degree in advertising at Edith Cowan University, in Western Australia.

'We were provided with our own office with security access, shared between two or three students. This 24-hour access enabled us to better manage our time between study and part-time work,' says Wong.

'Our lecturers were also really helpful and willing to provide us with feedback on our work at irregular hours. I don't think I would've been able to have my last paper published if I hadn't had that support,' she adds.

Meanwhile, the multicultural nature of Australian society provided Patrick Chu with the ideal location to complete his research-based PhD on the recognition and perception of foreign-accented speech and to gain a greater understanding of different cultures.

'I think international exposure is very important for people who want to find a job in any field. The university organised activities for international students such as pizza and movie nights, language partner swaps, regular international postgraduate student meetings as well as beach and BBQ parties,' says Chu.

'Australia is a young and vibrant country. We engage with the world with positivity, determination and a keen sense of what's possible. It's a resolute spirit that goes right through to our approach to teaching and learning and inspires confidence, create real-world skills, and encourage independent thinking, teamwork and leadership,' says Yan.

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- The number of HK postgraduate students in Australia in 2011

- Of these, 260 were taking up masters while 25 were doing doctoral degrees