From the Vice-Chancellor

Volume 7 Number 2 February 14 - March 13 2011

Fostering global collaboration

Universities are now hubs of international collaboration. Researchers from many nations work at universities across Australia, enriching their peers’ experiences and contributing to groundbreaking research. The strength derived from assembling such strong, international research cohorts draws further global collaborators to Australia.

Take IBM, which will soon open its first R&D centre housed at the University’s Parkville campus.

The Global Research and Development Lab will engage researchers from the University, CSIRO, National ICT Australia (NICTA) and Australian business.

The retiring IBM Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand, Glen Boreham, noted that IBM decided to locate the centre in Australia, and specifically in Parkville, because of local skills, opportunities and support.

The new IBM lab will focus on smarter natural resource and disaster management. Collaborations in computational life sciences have begun with the University, and the new lab will extend this work to other fields in healthcare and life science analytics.

This developing partnership with IBM reminds us that the work of universities and their collaborators is strategically vital for organisations, and even nations, around the world.

The world-leading research activity at Melbourne filters into our students’ learning experiences through the tradition of research-led teaching.

The education our students receive from working with, and learning from, these research leaders inspires many of them to become players on the world stage in their own right, such as Nobel Laureate Elizabeth Blackburn and ethicist Laureate Professor Peter Singer, both alumni.

International collaboration also offers students the skills to become global citizens.

We equip our students with globally relevant and portable degrees. We augment these qualifications by offering students many opportunities to engage with international peers, both on campus and through exchange programs, to emerge as multiculturally fluent and globally networked citizens of the world.

Students can undertake study abroad in 37 different countries through various pathways, including our membership of international higher education networks such as Universitas 21, a group of 23 leading research-intensive universities across 15 countries, and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities.

The strong ties fostered with leading foreign universities means Melbourne’s research strength continues to grow. Unique bilateral relationships with universities including Vanderbilt in the United States and Fudan in China facilitate easier collaboration in areas of mutual strength.

Melbourne is also working to increase further the number of early-career researchers working here through programs such as the McKenzie Fellowships, awarded to outstanding recent doctoral graduates from universities other than Melbourne. Among the Fellows are PhD graduates of Stanford University, the University of Bern, Switzerland, and Queen’s University, Belfast.

Collectively, these initiatives strengthen our position as a leading Australian university and an important contributor to the global tertiary education sphere.

More importantly, they deliver broad economic and social value to the wider community. To borrow a phrase from IBM’s Glen Boreham, partnerships between researchers pursue a better world.

Glyn Davis