COLLABORATION

New Zealand, China institutions collaborate on new forestry college

SOURCE: Shutterstock
The iconic Harbin Grand Theatre in Harbin, China. Aulin College students will divide their time between Auckland in New Zealand and Harbin city.

The University of Auckland is partnering with the Northeast Forestry University (NEFU) in China on a new college approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

Aulin College, a portmanteau of “Auckland” and “Linye” (“forestry” in Chinese), will deliver Bachelor and Master’s-level courses in Biotechnology, Chemistry, Computer Science and Technology. The two institutions will also be developing a joint PhD programme.

According to University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon, Aulin College is a project nearly four years in the making.

“China and New Zealand have a strong and mutually beneficial relationship in the tertiary education and research sectors.

“The University of Auckland’s first Professor of Chinese language was appointed more than 50 years ago, and such early associations and strong relationships have led to deep collaborations established over many years,” he pointed out in a press release.

In its bid to rise above the Western world as a global economic superpower, China has been striking partnerships in research and other areas of collaboration with foreign institutions outside its home country, wielding higher education as a soft power instrument to spread its influence across the Asia Pacific. 

In Australia, China has already beaten the United States to become the country’s biggest research partner, opening up new areas of opportunity for innovation and at the same time raising concerns on matters of national security. 

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These fears aside, however, there’s no stemming the tide that is China’s global rise to dominance.

Despite relentless pressures from Trump’s America and the ongoing trade war, China, with its 1.5 billion people and US$14 trillion economy, remains firmly on the pathway towards achieving its great-power status by 2050.

And determined to be a part of its success story, universities across Australia and New Zealand continue to work with its institutions in a variety of ways, seeing the inherent value in teaming up with one of the world’s most innovative countries on the planet.

The Aulin College collaboration is just one such product to come of New Zealand’s collaboration with China. And it won’t be the last.

As McCutcheon said:

“We look forward to this joint college as the next phase of our academic relationship with China, in which we anticipate significant mutual benefits to our universities and stronger links between our two countries.

“This initiative will broaden the channel of global exchange for teachers and students and enhance the international development of staff.”

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In congratulating the University of Auckland and NEFU on their joint initiative, New Zealand Ambassador to China Clare Fearnley said New Zealand places great importance on its education relationship with China.

The Aulin forestry college, she said, is a “Strategic Education Partnership” based on “complementary strengths and mutual interests”.

NEFU, founded in 1952 and located in Harbin district, is the largest forestry college in China. It is also an important institution within China’s “Double First-Class University Plan”, which aims to develop a group of elite Chinese universities and departments into world-class institutions by end-2050.

At the launch of Aulin, NEFU President Li Bin highlighted the importance the NEFU places on international cooperation and education.

“In recent years, NEFU has invited more than 300 academics from over thirty countries to teach, conduct research and tour our university,” he said. 

“Aulin College will help us cultivate international talents with global vision, innovative spirit and practical capabilities, and aid the development of Heilongjiang province.”

The first batch of undergraduate students will enrol in the forestry college this month. They will be taught in part by University of Auckland academic staff at NEFU’s Harbin campus before being transferred to Auckland in July 2022 for two years of postgraduate study to receive their Master’s of Science degree fro the university.

Postgraduate students, meanwhile, will complete a three-year Master’s programme, with the middle year spent doing research or a taught masters programme at the University of Auckland to earn dual masters degrees from both universities.

Eventually, up to 1,200 students could be studying at the college.