The University of Melbourne is hoping to foster more exchanges and closer cooperation with Chinese students and academics, said Professor Glyn Davis, vice-chancellor of the institution, during a visit to China.
"China is the central part of our international engagement as we have over 3,000 Chinese students now on campus and tens of thousands of graduates in China," Davis said.
With one in seven overseas students throughout the world now coming from China and Chinese students making up the largest single national group of overseas students worldwide, Davis said there is plenty of interest in attracting Chinese students.
Australians, too, are looking to learn. The University of Melbourne has been providing Chinese language lessons for "more than half a century". He said Australians are becoming more interested because of the closer economic ties, cultural attractiveness and because there are an increasing number of young Australian expats in China.
In addition to student exchange programs with top Chinese universities, the University of Melbourne is exploring the possibility of joint research projects in water management, environment protection, medicine and bioscience, added Professor John Dewar, who is in charge of global relations at the university.
Both countries face similar challenges in water management. The university and Chinese Academy of Sciences set up a China-Australia Water Resources Center in Melbourne in 2006.
Nearly 80 percent of Chinese university students have considered studying abroad, according to the latest survey by China Youth Daily. Most going overseas opt to study in the US, the UK, Australia and Canada.
During the global financial crisis, more Chinese students are expected to head overseas because of the pressure to find work and the appreciation of the Chinese currency.
Overseas universities are seizing the opportunity and looking to attract more Chinese students through greater cooperation with Chinese counterparts and organizations.