Equipping students for the global stage
Professor Pascale Quester The notion of pursuing an academic career on the other side of the world was an unlikely option for Professor Pascale Quester when she began her business and marketing studies in the 1980s in France.
She says back then the possibility of studying abroad was rare and difficult and the globalisation of education was still in its infancy.
But that didn’t stop her heading to the United States (US) and New Zealand to continue her studies on her way to becoming Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide.
Her early experiences have provided the perfect grounding for Pascale who is now leading the University’s push onto the global stage.
Significant steps are being been made through the Study Abroad program, a leadership position in edX and its MOOCs program, and strategic partnerships with key universities around the world.
“Our future is going to be global, so to equip our graduates to be citizens of the future they need to be global citizens, there is no other way,” says Pascale.
When Pascale first left France, Europe’s successful Erasmus student exchange program had yet to be established. Now she says it is a completely mainstream way of constructing a degree.
“Here in Australia going overseas has been a much more involved process so it’s taken that much longer for people to see the possibilities.
“In my mind a key graduate attribute is intercultural competence but it’s very difficult for a person to imagine what it’s like to be interculturally competent if they haven’t at some point in their existence been the foreigner.”
The University’s Study Abroad program aims to provide that experience with an international student exchange target of 30 per cent.
Pascale believes the target is modest. In five years, the University has moved from 1 to 18 per cent and she sees no reason why it couldn’t rise to 50 per cent or more.
Securing strategic partnerships with some of the world’s leading universities to collaborate on research and education is also raising the University’s global profile where it counts.
Adelaide is an active member of the AC21 international academic consortium and has established priority partnerships with nine universities in Canada, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, the United Kingdom (UK) and US.
“We’re not having a promiscuous relationship with just any university that comes knocking on our door,” she says.
“In 2012 we recast our international strategy so that we’re very purposeful in choosing strategic partners for the long haul – universities that have commensurate reputations, and compatible goals and values.”
Another major initiative is the University’s membership of edX, the non-profit open-source learning platform started by Harvard and MIT in the US.
edX is responsible for the delivery of MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses – and Adelaide now delivers eight courses and boasts almost 400,000 learners worldwide.
Equally impressive, Adelaide has just been elevated to the top tier of the organisation as a Contributing Charter Member.
Story by Ian Williams