Intense and inspiring! Summary of the delegation to Australia - NAWA

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At the beginning of March, a delegation of the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange and Polish universities went to the APAIE 2024 fair and conference and visited Australian universities. We met representatives of universities from Perth, Canberra and Melbourne, Polish organizations and business representatives.

The annual conference of the APAIE Asia Pacific Association for International Education - an organization promoting international higher education in the Asia-Pacific region - was held on March 4-8 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Center (PCEC). The event gathered more than 2,000 representatives of the academic community from around the world. The conference was accompanied by international educational fairs and specialized workshop sessions. NAWA, together with Polish universities, has been present at the event since its inception. A stand has already been organized in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. APAIE in Perth is the fourth edition with the participation of the Agency.

The ceremonial opening of the Polish stand was performed by the Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, professor Andrzej Szeptycki. The minister was accompanied by the Consul of the Republic of Poland in Canberra - Marcin Kawałowski, the Honorary Consul in Perth - Paul Bitdorf and the Deputy Director of the Department of National Cooperation of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education - Przemysław Skrodzki and the Director of the NAWA Office of Programs for Scientists and Institutions - Katarzyna Aleksy. The event gathered about 50 people. We hosted, among others: delegations from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, USA, Spain, and India.

Throughout the duration of APAIE, the Polish stand enjoyed great interest. Guests from all over the world could obtain information about NAWA programs and meet representatives of 12 Polish universities: AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow, Naval Academy in Gdynia, Medical University of Gdansk, Warsaw School of Economics, University of Economics in Krakow, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Jagiellonian University, University of Lodz, University of Environmental and Life Sciences in Wroclaw, Hugo Kołłątaj University of Agriculture in Krakow, WSB Merito Poznan University and Wszechnica Polska Academy of Applied Sciences in Warsaw.

We talked primarily about the possibilities of establishing international cooperation in the field of expanding student and academic exchange, increasing scientific mobility, as well as programs supporting students, researchers and institutions related to higher education internationalization.

Meeting the Polish community

On Thursday, March 7, after the fair, we met Polish clubs operating in Perth, bringing together Poles living in Western Australia. The meeting was attended by members of the WA Polonia, Sikorsky Club and Cracovia Club. The event was opened by the President of WA Polonia, Anna Niedźwiadek, and the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland, Paul Bitdorf, he solemnly presented the Medals of the National Education Commission to long-time teachers of the oldest Polish school in Western Australia - the Adam Mickiewicz Polish School in Perth. Medals were awarded to Nina Psuj and Bożena Kwintowski. During the meeting, we presented the Agency's profile and universities had the opportunity to present their educational offer. We also answered numerous questions related to recruitment and forms of studying in Poland.

Additional program – Eastern Australia

Australian universities are world leaders and at the same time some of the most internationalized universities in the world. The system consists of 37 public universities and several smaller private universities. The total number does not exceed 50. Studies in Australia are paid.

Australia's largest and best universities are grouped in the Group of Eight (Go8). They are leading research-intensive universities and receive two-thirds of the government research grants awarded to all universities.

Most universities are located in Eastern Australia. On the West Coast you can point to, among others: such universities as: Murdoch University, the University of Western Australia and Curtin University. Most international students at Australian universities are from Asia and India. They are also open to cooperation with European and American universities, so after the end of APAIE, we went to the East Coast to meet representatives of local universities.

On March 11, thanks to cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Canberra, we met, among others, representatives of the Australian Catholic University, the University of Canberra, the Polish-Australian Business Forum and the Polish Investment and Trade Agency in Australia. During the talks, we managed to exchange good practices in the field of broadly understood academic exchange between Polish and Australian universities, and contacts were established that enable the creation of proposals for joint research projects. Importantly, representatives of the business world assured their readiness to support activities related to international university cooperation.

The following days included meetings at Australian universities in Melbourne. On March 12, we went to the Monash University campus. It is the most international university in Australia, at the top of world rankings. At Monash, the Polish and Australian parties presented their offers and cooperation offers. We discussed opportunities to develop mutual relationships, as well as potential areas of synergy that could be explored in the future. The main issues for discussion were: student and academic exchange, joint research projects and strengthening cooperation in the existing inter-university relations.

The meeting ended with a visit to their huge university campus, it gave the impression of a small student town. The Polish delegation had the opportunity to see the following buildings: L&T Building, Student Accommodation, Woodside, Makerspace, New Horizons. They included not only dormitories and modern lecture halls, but also libraries, laboratories and workshop rooms. The infrastructure made a huge impression on us and we hope that some of the solutions observed in Australia will be transferred to Poland.

At the end of our stay in the antipodes, we went to the University of Melbourne. The university has existed since 1853 and has been one of the leaders on the Australian education and science market for over 170 years. Currently, it is the best university in Australia, it also ranks high in three key international rankings: 14th place in the world in the QS ranking, 32nd place in the world in the ARWU ranking and 34th place in the world in the THE ranking.

It is also one of the most internationalized universities. As many as 40% of students are foreigners representing approximately 150 nationalities.

There we also discussed our program offers in the context of developing and establishing cooperation within the framework of academic exchange and joint research projects. After a long and interesting discussion, we were shown around the university campus. History mixes with modernity there, both in terms of the architecture of the buildings and the equipment of lecture halls and laboratories.

To sum up the next edition of APAIE and the program of additional visits to the East Coast, it must be emphasized that it was time extremely well spent, it allowed not only to maintain relations with the existing partners in Australia and the entire Asia-Pacific region, but also to expand the network of existing contacts, while showing Polish universities as reliable partners offering the highest level of education.

We are pleased with the great interest and positive reception of the Polish offer, as well as the clear willingness of Australian universities to develop cooperation with Poland, as well as the strong position of Polish researchers and the recognition of the achievements of Polish science in the world.

All events in Eastern Australia were carried out in close cooperation between NAWA and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Canberra.