A joint venture between Latrobe City Council and Federation University has been designed to attract Chinese students to the Valley.
Council manager of economic development Bruce Connelly has joined FedUni Head of Campus Harry Ballis and Deputy Head in the School of Education Nicola Johnson on a week-long trip to Chinese sister city Taizhou, and is due to return tomorrow.
While not an official sister city visit, the trip is seeking to strengthen Latrobe’s relationship with the Chinese city and promote the university to international students.
It is hoped the partnership will attract investment in the region, with FedUni research indicating each international student generates about $100,000 for the local economy through fees, accommodation and living expenses, according to council general manager of city development Phil Stone.
“One hundred students would therefore generate in excess of $10 million per annum to the university and local economy,” Mr Stone said.
“Latrobe City Council has a strategy to diversify the local economy away from a reliance on traditional sectors, such as the power generation industry, and international education can add significantly to the local gross regional product.”
The tour included visits to four schools – Taizhou Polytechnic, Taizhou University, Taizhou Middle School Number 1 and Kou’an Senior Middle School.
At each site FedUni hosted promotional events targeting students and parent information sessions.
Council will work with the tertiary education provider and demonstrate their support to the Chinese schools, parents and government.
Speaking to The Express before his departure, Dr Ballis said the university was capitalising on the two communities’ close relationship.
“It’s really seeking to attract students to set up mechanisms for students to start applying to come here,” he said.
One of a series of relationships the university has established with other countries, including Malaysia, Bangladesh, Thailand, and India, the trip is part of a broader approach of putting the Latrobe Valley on the international stage.
“We are looking at building the international profile of the university because we believe the uni and the Gippsland campus are a great place to come and study,” Dr Ballis said.
Under the partnership, Chinese teachers will also be offered training opportunities through the university.
Council and FedUni have each covered part of the trip’s cost, with council contributing $3500 to the venture.
Mr Stone said council would assess each future delegation individually, but it was not intending to accompany the university on all future trips.