By Christian Edwards
SYDNEY, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- A spirit of collaboration has seen Australia's leading Asia-literate university break new ground in harnessing the collective knowledge of regional organizations, with the University of New South Wales' (UNSW) recent election to the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), confirming its standing as a regional crossroad for international learning.
Membership within the prestigious APRU is as coveted as it is exclusive. The latest of over 260 partnerships and alliances will enable UNSW, with its main campus in Sydney's dynamic Kensington, to engage with 44 leading research-intensive universities in the Asia-Pacific region.
Among the APRU partners are Stanford, University of California, Los Angeles, University of Hong Kong, University of Tokyo, National University of Singapore and Seoul National University.
Jennie Lang, vice-president (advancement) at UNSW and a board member of the Asia Society Australia said the harnessing of academic and industry alliances was a cornerstone of what made UNSW the leading Australian university when it comes to graduates joining the workforce.
"From UNSW's point of view collaboration is an unequivocally good news story, despite the considerable investments required to build global links. As such, we are actively pursuing links with industry and with other universities as one of the cornerstones of our strategic approach."
"Our recent election to the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) extends our networks further, joining 44 leading institutions in the Asia-Pacific region. To date, we've forged 270 partnerships with universities around the world," she added.
UNSW's latest collaboration adds further weight to its standing among regional institutions and is a ringing endorsement of its engagement strategy that has seen appointments like the mandarin- speaking former CEO of the Australia China Business Council, Laurie Pearcey taking up a position as both a co-director of the Confucius Institute and leading China Development.
"We call Sydney home, but this is the Asia-Pacific's center for international learning. Students come to us to harness resources that simply can't be accessed anywhere else. Effectively, we take the Chinese notion of 'guanxi' (networks) and apply it to knowledge. It's been a wonderful process that is growing everyday. "
UNSW president and vice-chancellor Prof. Fred Hilmer has made this engagement strategy a core value for a university that has begun to outpace its domestic and regional rivals with a beat them, then join them approach.
"I am delighted with our election to the APRU network. It will open doors to research forums and workshops and leadership programs focusing on areas of mutual interest," he told Xinhua.
In June, UNSW was recognized as one of the world's top science and technology universities with an invitation to add its weight to GlobalTech, a global alliance of leading technological universities.
As the first Australian university to be invited to join, UNSW now has the opportunity to collaborate with science and technology research powerhouses such as California Institute of Technology, Imperial College London, China's Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Singapore's Nanyang Technological University to help solve shared, global challenges.
Jennie Lang said the networked world is waiting for those with the initiative and determination to capitalize.
"As global challenges become more complex, we believe the most effective research outcomes can be achieved through collaborative networks built around complementary skills and shared goals."
"For example, UNSW is currently working with Indian researchers to develop new, local scale solutions to the growing mountains of e-waste that are contaminating dump sites, threatening the health of communities and squandering a wealth of metals embedded in the electronics goods we all so readily throw away," Lang said.
Only three new members were elected, along with Yonsei University and the University of Hawaii to the APRU in 2013.
Announcing the membership, the APRU chair and chancellor Henry Yang of University of California in Santa Barbara said the APRU is keen to engage with UNSW in "shaping higher education and research, creating global leaders and partnering on solutions to Asia- Pacific challenges".
The APRU's key collaborative research themes include global health, sustainability and climate change,multi-hazards, aging in Asia and brain and mind.
"UNSW is now a member of three prestigious international networks of leading research-intensive universities: Universitas 21, GlobalTech, and APRU," Hilmer said.
"These networks have unique priorities and objectives and will enable UNSW to connect with our peers in the region and around the world."
Lang said that joining hands is only the beginning and it drives learning through partnership rather than competition.
"When we agree to collaborate we do, of course, effectively reduce competition by setting out what we are willing to share to create a collective wealth of knowledge, resources and contacts."
"To reap the rewards of collaboration we need to identify and seize the opportunities that access to such collective wealth -- and the lessons that others have already learnt -- opens up."