Success of the France/Australia seminar on higher education, research and industry [fr]
More than 150 participants met on 4 December 2019 in Adelaide to discuss the relationship between the two countries in the fields of higher education, research and industry. This event was a continuation of the momentum initiated by the submarine contract, and the work resulting from the previous seminar on the subject in 2017 in Adelaide.
The success of the Nicolas Baudin “Internships in France” initiative was the spearhead of this meeting, which focused on ways of continuing the strengthening bilateral cooperation. Initiated in 2017 as a pilot project, the initiative has gained significant scale in the Australian higher education landscape. Set up to strengthen university cooperation between France and Australia, it offers Australian students the opportunity to undertake a research internship hosted by a French university in collaboration with a leading industrial partner, as well as financial support. An allowance is provided by the two universities, while the Embassy finances travel. With 21 applications for 9 awarded places in 2017, growing to 168 applications for 27 places in 2019, the success of the program has been illustrated not only by an increase in the number of subjects proposed and laureates benefiting from the program, but also by the creation of long-term financing partnerships (Naval Group and Thales have been financing the mobility of their laureates since 2019).
The seminar, opened by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research at Flinders University, which hosted the event, was introduced by senior government representatives from both countries, namely South Australian Premier Steven Marshall and French Ambassador Christophe Penot.
On the French side, a large delegation was mobilised: research organisations (CNRS), universities (Toulouse 3, Limoges), engineering schools (IMT Atlantique, ENSTA Bretagne), but also the program’s major industrial partners (Airbus Australia, Thales Australia, Naval Group Pacific). On the Australian side, the institutions most involved in the program (University of Flinders, South Australia, Sydney and Macquarie), and the largest groups of Australian universities (Go8, ATN, Innovative Research Universities) were represented.
The seminar was designed to highlight the strengths of the program based on feedback: after only 3 years of existence, it has been recognised by all stakeholders as particularly relevant in the Australian context, enabling early contact between academic and industrial partners.
University representatives raised the beneficial role of the program in enhancing the attractiveness of international mobility among Australian students: the interest of companies for candidates who have had experience abroad, immersion while learning a new language, the possibility of working on projects within multicultural and interdisciplinary teams, etc. Thanks to the level of excellence of its partners, it provides significant added value in the professional curriculum of the Australian student. Meanwhile, it allows French companies to stand out by creating tailor-made thesis subjects, adapted to the specific issues between the two countries. It has also been an opportunity to reinforce their intergenerational diversity and inclusiveness.
This impetus led to the signing and official launch of the reciprocal program "Matthew Flinders" by the government of South Australia, which will support French students doing a research internship in the State, in collaboration with Thales and Naval Group. It confirms the strong interest of the players in building a stronger partnership in training and research, particularly with a view of current strategic issues (naval, space, environment, etc.). By helping to bring closer the Australian university sector and the industrial sector, it promotes the quality of interaction between universities and industry in France, and creates a dialogue conducive to long-term commitment between France and Australia.