MORE teachers and prospective teachers have been looking to Australia for help in upgrading their qualifications since the Hong Kong Government decided to increase the number of graduate teachers in primary schools. The Australian colleges and universities have been through it all before - Australia introduced rules to make sure that, by 1989, all its new primary school teachers would be graduates. This gave them plenty of practical experience in designing degree courses for the special needs of this particular teaching group. The Australian experience has shown that introducing the rules not only improves classroom standards, but leads to increased salaries and a higher social status for teachers. It also means that if the Hong Kong Government is to attain the target it set last year of upgrading at least one third of Hong Kong's 20,000 primary school teaching posts to graduate level before 2007, it will have to recognise the urgent need for more specialist teacher training packages. Local colleges and universities are set to do a big share of the work; some already have facilities to teach primary school teaching but are limited in scope and capacity. Some are already making arrangements with overseas institutions in Australia and elsewhere to collaborate in designing programmes that would fit the particular needs of Hong Kong's teachers. When a group of 21 deans and professors of education from Australia arrived in Hong Kong on a teacher education mission earlier this year, they spent five days seeing how the local primary and early childhood education system worked in the territory. Many came from institutions which had, like Deakin University in Victoria, been running Bachelor of Education programmes in Hong Kong for several years. Others were from institutions which were actively investigating how they could make their programmes available in the territory through distance-learning in association with local colleges and universities. The delegates visited several local schools, where they talked to teachers about how learning methods in Hong Kong compared with those in Australia. They also met with senior officials from the Education Department, local tertiary institutions and the Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation. When they returned to their own universities, they were much more aware of the credit transfer arrangements and advanced standing recognition arrangements which needed to be put in place for Hong Kong teachers if they decided to upgrade their qualifications in Australia.