PM’s awards show Flinders Asian focus

Endeavour Award recipient, Tom Gerrits

Seven Flinders University students have received prestigious awards under the Prime Minister’s Australia Asia and Pacific Australia awards schemes.

Flinders Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Barber said the awards confirmed the success of the University’s educational commitment to Asia at a time when engagement with the region is a strategic priority for Australia, as outlined in the Federal Government’s Asian Century White Paper.

“Flinders has established a significant role and presence in Asia through its teaching and research collaborations,” Professor Barber said.

Endeavour Award winners, undergraduates James Baker and Tom Gerrits will be funded for two years by their Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Award to study and complete internships overseas. Both are studying dual degrees in law and international relations. Mr Baker will travel to Indonesia, and Mr Gerrits to Hong Kong.

Chinese postgraduate student Zhou Guanqu (Maggie Zhou) of the Economics Graduate School at Yunnan University, who has been working with the Flinders Master of Arts (International Relations, Economy and Trade) course in China, has been chosen as one of only 20 students from across Asia to receive funding to undertake PhD studies in Australia through the Australia Asia Awards. She will come to Flinders in 2013.

Four of the University’s AusAID students from overseas – Elizabeth Akore and Sabina Kore (School of Education), Shila Phopo (Health Sciences) and Jose Marcal (Social and Behavioural Science) – are recipients of Pacific Australia Awards. The awards provide work placements and leadership training to recipients of Australian Development Scholarships and Australian Leadership Awards.

“As well as being a tribute to the merits of the individual students, the awards reflect the University’s intensive involvement with AusAID’s educational programs, the strength of our offshore teaching programs in China and Singapore, and the depth of knowledge relating to Asia among our teaching and research staff,” Professor Barber said.

“Given the highly competitive nature of these prestigious awards, this is an outstanding achievement that both reaffirms the University’s Asian focus and strengthens our links in the region.”

Tom Gerrits, who will undertake international and Chinese law topics, as well as Mandarin language studies at the University of Hong Kong, said he was delighted to receive an Endeavour Award.

“There’s something that really fascinates me about China. I studied Chinese extensively in primary school and I’ve always had an interest and desire to one day go there to study,” Mr Gerrits said.

“China is only going to become more prevalent and more important in our world, especially in this Asian Century,” he said.

“The Award enables me to spend the first semester at the University of Hong Kong and then to pursue internships in mainland China, Hong Kong and Thailand.

“I will be able to make some links there and to pursue a career in Asia, possibly in diplomacy or private practice law or government. It will be a good chance to sample the field and get an idea of which direction I want to go.”

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