La Trobe signs major health-training agreements with China

Posted on September 20, 2012

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Vice-Chancellor Professor Dewar with Sichuan University President Professor Xie Heping and an interpreter.

La Trobe University has signed an agreement with Sichuan University dramatically expanding the teaching in China of one of Australia’s top public health programs.

The La Trobe University Joint Health Services Management Training (offshore) program will operate on the Sichuan University campus in Chengdu, Western China.

Its key offering will be the University’s unique bi-lingual Master of Health Administration degree. The agreement was announced by Premier Ted Baillieu  during the State Government’s recent Super Trade Mission to China.

Sichuan University also proposed setting up a joint institute in public health, supported by local ministries of education and health, an initiative warmly welcomed by La Trobe.

Health reform

La Trobe Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar, said China is undertaking one of the world’s largest health system reforms, but there was a significant gap in wealth and welfare between eastern and western China.

Sichuan is one of the most populated provinces in China and the economic centre of western China. ‘There is a need in Western China to strengthen its health care system, hence this new arrangement with Sichuan University.’

Professor Dewar said the La Trobe degree provides professional training and teaching for senior managers, policy makers and government officials in health, social insurance, civil affairs, drug administration and community services industries throughout China.

A series of certificate courses, as well as non-formal courses tailored for Chinese health workers and health services managers, will also be offered.

Vice-Chancellor Dewar, who travelled with the State government delegation, said the La Trobe China Health Program has worked very closely with the Victorian Department of Health since the 1990s, promoting advanced experience and knowledge of health care in other parts of China.

He said the program – registered with the Australian Government and commended by the Australian University Quality Agency as a ‘jewel in the crown’ of La Trobe’s international activities – was initially established at Harbin Medical University in 1996.

Vice-Chancellor Dewar, left, Premier Baillieu and Nanjing Agricultural University President, Professor Zhou Guanghong, see story below.

Important contribution

‘Since then, more than 1,000 students have graduated from the program and are now working in almost every province in China, making an important contribution to the development of that country’s health system.’

La Trobe has also been the biggest research partner in China over the past three years in health services research and health system development funded through AusAID.

Professor Dewar said the La Trobe Master of Health degree is also one of the few courses approved to be taught onshore in Australia in languages other than English.

‘The curriculum has been based on extensive research into the training needs of health care managers in China in consultation with academics from leading Chinese universities’.

The La Trobe agreements involve exchange programs for teaching and research staff as well as undergraduate and postgraduate students. There will also be reciprocal credit recognition for health administration courses on both campuses.

World-leading role in agribio and molecular sciences

Another key agreement signed during the Trade Mission to China was with Nanjing Agricultural University, Jiangsu Province.

Nanjing Agricultural University is a pioneer of modern agricultural education and rates 39th in the 2008 Chinese University Ranking List.

Dean of the Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering, Professor Brian McGaw, said the La Trobe delegation had achieved some great outcomes. Victoria had a strong relationship with Jiangsu, and there was a ‘synergy of research interests’ between La Trobe and Nanjing Agricultural University which have been built upon with this agreement.

‘With the new $288 million AgriBio, Centre for Agribioscience, on La Trobe’s Melbourne campus, and the $98 million La Trobe Institute for Molecular Sciences (LIMS), La Trobe will have a world-leading role in agriculture, molecular sciences and nanotechnology related research,’ Professor McGaw said.

‘So we are committed to developing strong research collaboration and student exchange opportunities with leading universities across the world,’ he added.

Night-time image of the recently completed AgriBio building on La Trobe’s Melbourne campus

While in China La Trobe University took part in Victorian Government sponsored alumni networking events, including those of its Hong Kong graduates.

It also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the prestigious Beijing based Central University of Finance and Economics, witnessed by Premier  Baillieu,  to strengthen and develop further links through the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law.