Attending the signing ceremony at Parliament House, the Chief Executive of Universities Australia, Belinda Robinson said Australia and China already benefited from strong collaboration on university education and research.
“The Free Trade Agreement will further broaden and deepen an already close relationship on higher education and research between our two countries”, Ms Robinson said.
“In 2009 China became Australia’s number one trading partner, in 2012 it became our number one knowledge partner and in 2014 we have taken this fruitful relationship to yet another level through the signing of this FTA,” said Ms Robinson.
“Since 2003, formal university agreements with China have grown by 171 per cent to 1,237 in 2014.
“The value of these agreements to Australia both in terms of productivity, trade, foreign relations and cultural understanding is immense. Today’s FTA will help extend this partnership.”
Ms Robinson said Universities Australia was pleased the agreement includes a framework to advance mutual recognition of higher education qualifications in both countries through a Memorandum of Understanding signed today by Education Minister Christopher Pyne.
“Universities will also support continued discussion of options for enhanced mobility of students, researchers and academics in both countries and increased marketing opportunities for Australian education providers in China”, Ms Robinson said.
“Our already extensive knowledge partnership with China shows just how strong our universities’ desire and commitment is to doing business together – to teach each other’s students and to collaborate in research and scholarship”, Ms Robinson said.
Universities Australia acknowledges the strenuous work undertaken by the Federal Government in finalising this FTA and looks forward to working to enhance cooperation and collaboration with China in further years as the agreement is implemented.
“The strong reputation for quality academic and student experiences in Australian universities has seen many thousands of Chinese students graduate from our universities both in Australia and through the delivery of our programs in China,” Ms Robinson said.
“These graduates are the basis of our future country to country engagement as they work in the Chinese government or enterprises with the benefit of their Australian education, research and networks.”
The $15 billion international education industry is Australia’s largest non-resources export and third largest export overall.