The University of Melbourne is marking its 160th anniversary with the launch of an international endowment campaign to further boost its educational resources, a university administrator said in Jakarta on Friday.
“Like many universities around the world, we are building an endowment which allows us to fund scholarships and pursue research,” Vice Chancellor Glyn Davis said during a recent visit to Jakarta.
“The Campaign for the University of Melbourne,” which launched on Sept. 21, is a 10-year effort aimed at raising Aus$500 million ($472 million) by 2017.
“A modest campaign was launched in 1953 on our 100th anniversary. It was successful. As we approached our 160th anniversary, we thought it was time to reach out again,” Davis said.
Since the campaign’s commencement, Davis and other key university figures have been traveling to various nations to speak with alumni who have expressed interest in helping Melbourne’s future student body.
“It’s the perfect time to reach out to our alumni in Indonesia. We’ve been teaching Indonesian students since the early 1950s and have been awarding PhDs in much larger numbers since the 1990s,” said Davis, who recently met with over 140 alumni in Jakarta.
The University of Melbourne has long-standing links with both the University of Indonesia and the University of Gajahmada (UGM) in awarding joint degrees in biomedical science. Academic alliances have also been forged with other institutions, namely the University of Diponegro (Undip) and the State Islamic University (UIN).
Davis said that exciting medical research is taking place in Indonesia on the effects of malaria on pregnancy and on genetic counseling and mental health issues.
“We are very interested to see how these research areas develop and produce solutions for common health issues,” he said.
For several decades, Australian universities have been working to build bridges with Asia.
With strong partnerships in much of Asia and tens of thousands of graduates in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, the university said it had yet to develop a comparable relationship with Indonesia.
The 1997 economic crisis saw a decline in number of Indonesian students studying overseas and it has taken time for the country to rebound from that era.
“In 2050, Indonesia will be one of largest economies on the planet. You want to be a friend to a country while it’s developing and finding itself, rather than to make a link later in life when everybody else is trying to do the same,” explained Davis.
At present, there are about 900 Indonesian students at the University of Melbourne, 345 of whom are postgraduate-level students.
Before visiting Jakarta, Davis traveled to London, Paris, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Hong Kong. Visits to the United States and mainland China are planned for later this year and in early 2014.
“We want Australia and the region to have access to great universities. One of the things that makes the United States a great nation is their great universities and we want Australia and Asia to have the same,” Davis said.