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Chinese Microblog                                           Mid-year 2021                                   Embassy Website 
Farewell Message from Minister-Counsellor Brooke Hartigan

I cannot believe the time has come for me to say a big thank you and bid adieu, but here it is, the end of my posting!  Sadly, a few months back we also waved goodbye to our First Secretary Jarrod Ross and family.
         
What a three years it has been!  Not quite what I had anticipated with the challenge of a global pandemic thrown in, but overall a very rewarding and appropriately challenging experience.  I learned a great deal in my time, much from your good selves, and can only hope that I met your expectations in my representation of the Australian international education sector in this region. I am deeply grateful for the collaborative spirit, open communication and good humour that I have experienced from colleagues, counterparts and contacts over this time. My words won’t do it justice so I will keep it simple – thank you.
       
Over the course of my three years, the Education and Research Section has participated in many meetings, conferences and events. We have attended launches, anniversaries and alumni reunions; witnessed collaborations in the early stages of negotiation and visited newly and long-established joint ventures, and research locations. We have met and engaged with the people at the core of our bilateral education cooperation – the students, graduates, teachers, academics and researchers.  We have hosted and co-hosted dialogues, roundtables and workshops; and continued with our Section’s long history of publishing policy updates on developments in China’s education sector. (NB:  Following changes to the DESE website, policy updates and publications produced by the Education and Research Section of the Australian Embassy in China are available on the China Resources  page). While our Section’s usual engagement and activity has needed to adapt over the last year, particularly due to COVID, we have still been able to conduct provincial visits and participate in conferences and other events.  We were particularly pleased to meet with students in Suzhou recently who were continuing their studies online while being unable to travel to Australia. While their study experience was different to what they had imagined when signing up to study abroad, they were nonetheless making the most of the circumstances!
It has been a great honour to be involved in the Australia-China education cooperation landscape as the Minister-Counsellor (Education and Research). I will dearly miss working with my Section and with all of you.    
In good news, Jarrod and I are passing the batons to two very experienced and friendly replacements – Ms Karen Welsh in the Minister-Counsellor (Education and Research) role and Ms Rachel Lynch in the First Secretary position.  We wish them all the very best for their arrival at Post, and for the ensuing three years, and trust they will find the roles as rewarding as Jarrod and I both did.

Photo: Brooke with family in Beijing

Meet our new officers!

        


Karen Welsh

Minister-Counsellor (Education and Research)
Australian Department of Education, Skills and Employment /
Australian Embassy, Beijing

Karen Welsh is the Minister-Counsellor (Education and Research) at the Australian Embassy in Beijing.  Karen was previously Assistant Secretary (Access Branch) in the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, where she led bilateral engagement with partner governments in South East Asia and Latin America, and regularly represented Australia in key multilateral fora including APEC and G20. Other responsibilities included qualifications recognition policy and leading Commonwealth planning for the return of international students to Australia.

From 2013-2017, Karen was the Counsellor (Education and Science) at the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.  Before joining the public service she worked in various university management roles. 

Karen holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Queensland, and a Master of Tertiary Education Management from the University of Melbourne.
         


Rachel Lynch

First Secretary (Education and Research)
Australian Department of Education, Skills and Employment /
Australian Embassy, Beijing

Rachel Lynch is First Secretary (Education and Research) at the Australian Embassy in Beijing, China.
Rachel has had a diverse career in the education sector working in both state and territory and federal government positions. Rachel has extensive strategic policy experience in a range of areas, including teaching and school leadership and international student mobility, with a primary focus on school education and improving student outcomes. 

Prior to working in government, Rachel was a classroom teacher.Rachel holds a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Queensland.
Farewell to Mr Chen Baosheng and welcome to Professor Huai Jinpeng
 
According to a decision by the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress on 20 August, Professor Huai Jinpeng was appointed China's new Minister for Education (MoE), replacing Mr Chen Baosheng. 

The Education and Research Section would like to welcome Professor Huai on his appointment as a new Minister for Education.
Ambassador visits Australia-China joint science college in Shandong

Australia’s Ambassador to China, His Excellency Mr Graham Fletcher, visited Shandong province in June 2021. While in Shandong, he visited the SDU-ANU Joint Science College, Shandong University on 11 June, accompanied by Minister-Counsellor (Education and Research) Brooke Hartigan, among others.
Photo: His Excellency Mr Graham Fletcher visits the SDU-ANU Joint Science College on 11 June 2021 
The SDU-ANU Joint Science College, Shandong University is a joint institute partnership between Shandong University and Australian National University, approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education in 2019. Shandong currently has three active joint institutes at bachelor and above degree level and 12 active joint programs at this level.

During the visit, we were given some time to engage with a few students from the Joint Science College studying mathematics, physics and chemistry.  All spoke very highly of the College and their experience thus far.
   
The Weihai campus of SDU is lovely with easy access to the nearby coast.  Weihai is not only a ‘green city’ but also a wonderful student town.
Celebrate International Women’s Day with education counterparts

On Wednesday April 7th, AustCham China hosted an International Women’s Day Luncheon in Beijing at the Grand Millennium Hotel, with support from the Australian Embassy and AmCham China. The event celebrated the social, political and economic achievements of women across the world and invited female representatives to discuss gender equality in a post COVID-19 world.
       
The event featured speeches by Sue Kench (Global Chief Executive of King & Wood Mallesons), Roberta Lipson (CEO and founder of United Family Healthcare), and Carol Li Rafferty (Managing Director at Yale Center Beijing) as well as a panel discussion with female leaders.
The Education and Research Section attended along with key Chinese education counterparts. 
      
The UN theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 World’. Women make up 70% of frontline healthcare workers, saving lives in this crucial period. This event reminds us that empowering our women and girls is one of the best ways to achieve society-wide recovery.


Photo: International Women's Day Luncheon, Grand Millennium Hotel, Beijing, 7 April 2021
Engaging with students and counterparts

In late April, Brooke and Xiaofeng travelled south and visited six study hubs/centres set up by Australian universities and governments to support students who are currently conducting their studies online with their Australian provider due to COVID-19 and related travel restrictions.
       
These facilities included: SEU-Monash University Suzhou Joint Graduate School; the UWA Study Centre at Soochow University; University of Sydney China Centre; Study Melbourne Hub Shanghai; ANU Study Hub; and UNSW Study Centre. Brooke met with students currently continuing their Australian study programs at these facilities and acknowledged their adaptability and resilience during this unusual time.  

 
Photo: Education team's visit to UWA Study Centre at Soochow university, University of Sydney China Centre and SEU-Monash University Suzhou Joint Graduate School 
Over the course of the past 12+ months, many Australian institutions and governments have set up study hubs/centres in China providing comfortable learning and working environments, on the ground support with online delivery from local staff, and a range of extra opportunities (eg employability workshops, guidance on the Australian study approach, preparing Curriculum Vitae seminars). Most of these facilities were established by Australian institutes with their long-term partner Chinese institutes and entities.
 
While in Jiangsu, Brooke and Xiaofeng were also invited to attend the 10th anniversary celebration of the Haimen Zhongnan Dongzhou International School in Nantong. The school has links with Australia, specifically with Bendigo High School. In 2014, Bendigo and Haimen City established sister city relations, which have provided more opportunities for people to people exchange.  This was a tremendous celebration with great effort and participation by all faculty, students and even some alumni.  On top of heartfelt speeches, the ceremony incorporated a range of performances including Kungfu, light ball dancing, flag dancing and opera, among others. The event was followed by an official lunch, after which Brooke and Xiaofeng met with leaders from Nantong Education Bureau to discuss Australia-China bilateral education cooperation.
Maintain contact and support stakeholders in a COVID world

Owing to the persistence of COVID-19, our office has continued to adapt to new ways of interacting with stakeholders.  We have participated virtually in various events in the first half of 2021.
On 15 January, Brooke recorded a congratulatory speech video for Wenzhou No.21 Middle School. The school partners with Australia’s Thomas Carr College to offer the Victorian Certificate of Education in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province. We were so pleased to learn that despite COVID and the need to conduct studies online, the average ATAR of the 2021 VCE graduates in Wenzhou No.21 Middle School is the highest among the past cohorts!

  
Photo: Brooke's video speech for Wenzhou No.21 Middle School graduation ceremony. 
On 13 May, Brooke delivered a presentation at the Council for International Students of Western Australia Professional Development Zoom Session on Cultural Awareness – Working Effectively with Students and Institutions from China.  Brooke gave a presentation titled “Perceptions of Australian education in China”.
       
On 9 June, Brooke virtually joined a Panel Session at the Australia China Business Council’s (ACBC) Australia-China Education Symposium. Brooke gave a presentation titled Evolving consumer perceptions in China: Impact of developments in China’s education policy & regulation.
        
On 2 July, Brooke participated in the annual VCE Conference held partially online, partially in person in Shanghai.  Brooke joined a panel discussion on “Where Australian education can take you in the future: reinforcing the value of Australian Education” and spoke about China’s changing education landscape and what this might mean for Australian education stakeholders into the future, particularly those involved in senior secondary schooling.
Australian universities’ star performance on international rankings

The QS World University Rankings 2022 was released on June 9 and Australian universities once again secured top spots with five universities listed in the world’s top 50. The majority of Australian universities listed have maintained or improved their positions from the previous round. ANU ranked first in Australia and 27th in the world, up by four positions from the previous year. The University of Melbourne and University of Sydney followed at 37th and 38th in the world respectively, also up by three positions each from 2021. Curtin University saw the highest jump of 23 positions from the previous year, now ranked 194th. Over 95% of Australian universities are ranked this year, up by 5%. 

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022 was released on September 2. Australia maintained its outstanding performance last year with 37 universities included in the ranking, which accounts for almost 90% of all Australian universities. Six universities made it into the world’s top 100. Melbourne University was the highest ranked at 33rd, followed by ANU and UQ tying for 54th. 
 
The 2021 Academic Ranking of World Universities was released on  August 15. Australian universities saw 34 universities ranked in the world’s top 1000 with seven in the top 100.  The majority of Aussie universities saw a leap from the previous year – University of Melbourne increased by 2 positions, University of Queensland up by 3, UNSW up by 9, and Monash University up by 5. 
Alumni story

Heather Wang
Master of Accounting, Charles Darwin University
My name is Heather, I am from Shenyang, a North-eastern city in China. I am currently studying Masters of Accounting at Charles Darwin University (CDU). I studied online for the first semester last year due to travel restrictions caused by the pandemic, but I was fortunate to be selected on the first pilot flight for international students to come back to Australia, and am now back on campus in Darwin. I had started my semester 2 studies on campus since 1 March.
I still remember the day I boarded the flight – it was a Sunday. I recall all CDU staff standing-by to make sure everything worked out smoothly, and it did.

My parents were of course a bit worried about the safety issue but after they saw how much effort the university and government had put into this program, they were assured that I will be okay.  

Photo: students selected to participate in the pilot flight to Darwin 
When the plane landed, I saw our friendly CDU staff in uniform waving banners to welcome us. I immediately felt a sense of belonging and knew that I had made the right choice coming back. The CDU staff would call us every day during quarantine to ensure that we are okay mentally and physically. We had a big balcony that allowed us to chat at a safe distance with other students at the facility and we were also fortunate to be able to swim and exercise at the quarantine centre. The food provided was delicious and plentiful. I video chatted with my parents everyday during quarantine and they were very happy for me. I know CDU must be proud to have been the first to carry out the pilot flight, I am proud of myself for being a part of it.

The past couple of months have been busy for me. I worked and volunteered alongside my studies. I am grateful that my employer had kept the position for me for over a year and waited for my return. I am an active member of the local community and volunteer at the Salvation Army as well as the Red Cross. I had also come to know about an exciting program at CDU that promotes cultural and language exchange called “Lingo to Mingle” and volunteered to work on it.

I realised that participating in community work has benefitted me tremendously, not only did it engage me with the society, it also helped me with my career prospects. I encourage all international students to take up some type of work and volunteering while studying in Australia and explore beyond the campus.

I am grateful to have been able to return to Australia on the first pilot program and continue my studies on campus. I will complete my degree in mid-2022 but my link with CDU, Darwin and Australia doesn’t stop there, in fact, I really look forward to the next chapter of my engagement with Australia.

Photo: Heather with students from Charles Darwin University 
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