James Cook University Vice-Chancellor Sandra Harding welcomes partnership with China’s Xi’an University of Technology. Photo: Cameron Laird
James Cook University Vice-Chancellor Sandra Harding welcomes partnership with China’s Xi’an University of Technology. Photo: Cameron Laird

JCU strikes partnership with Chinese university

James Cook University has struck its first partnership with a Chinese university that will see, when COVID-19 travel restrictions are eased, staff and students working and studying in China.

It could also lead to joint research projects and student and staff exchanges.

The partnership is with the Xi'an University of Technology in north central China.

Xi'an is one of China's ancient capitals near the site of the famous Terracotta Warriors. The Chinese university is planning a new International Engineering College that has now been approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education under a program designed to foster collaboration with international partners.

JCU vice chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said it was an exciting collaboration for JCU's staff and students in engineering and data science.

"Ministerial approval is very welcome news. It means that, after two years of planning, the college can be up and running for the beginning of China's 2020 academic year in September," Prof Harding said.

The Xi'an University of Technology will operate the college with input from JCU staff on course design and content.

JCU staff are already working with XUT remotely, helping to design subjects and providing input into the curriculum. The intention is that JCU staff will eventually spend some time in Xi'an each semester, teaching and liaising with XUT lecturers and researchers.

Prof Harding said students and staff would benefit from sharing ideas, knowledge and fresh approaches.

"We also look forward to developing joint research projects and the potential for future student and staff exchanges," Prof Harding said.

Deputy vice chancellor, Tropical Environments and Societies, Professor Marcus Lane said that while staff would eventually travel to and teach in Xi'an, that would not happen until health experts and governments determined that it was safe to do so.

He said JCU was collaborating with institutions like XUT to keep pace with the rapid development of global science.

"The Chinese university sector is internationally significant and it keeps getting stronger," Prof Lane said.

"Our work with XUT focuses on engineering, data science and internet of things - areas in which China is already very influential.

"These are areas in which our students will find the jobs of the future, and which we see as essential to building regional economies."

He said JCU's affiliation with XUT would also help graduates stand out from the crowd with the intercultural skills and experience they needed to build careers in a global marketplace.

Originally published as JCU strikes partnership with Chinese university