Last week, the ANU Australian Studies Institute (AuSI) hosted the inaugural Stephen FitzGerald Scholars Program from Monday 27 – Wednesday 29 November 2023. The prestigious three-day intensive study tour brought to the capital 30 selected Chinese students already studying in Australian universities, giving them unique access to the great institutions of state including Parliament House, the High Court of Australia, the National Museum, the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Arboretum, CSIRO, and the National Press Club.
Called the Stephen FitzGerald Scholars Program in honour of Australia's first ambassador to Beijing (then known as Peking) this initiative was funded through a grant from the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations.
"It's quite an honour, but more than that, it's a mark of the huge benefits that can flow from dialogue, from mutual understanding and respect, and importantly, from the acceptance of key differences between political systems. While frictions have arisen from time-to-time as is expected, the story of Australia-China relations is one of colossal economic and human benefits on both sides. Anything which deepens understanding and strengthens the people-to-people aspect, creates ballast in that bilateral relationship which guards against overreaction to problems which inevitably come to strain bilateral relations periodically."
- Dr Stephen FitzGerald AO, Australia's first ambassador to Beijing
The 2023 Stephen FitzGerald Scholars Program was co-convened by AuSI’s Professor Mark Kenny and Dr Béatrice Bijon and saw a significant number of eminent guest speakers over the three days including, Paul Girrawah House, Professor Brian Schmidt AC, Professor Peter Kanowski, Peter Swanton, Dr David Headon, The Hon Milton Dick MP, Professor James Curran, Selena Bateman, Professor George Brandis and Professor Mark Howden.
“I spoke to the very first cohort of Stephen FitzGerald Scholars, comprising 30 of Australia’s highest achieving Chinese Honours and Masters students who had converged on the nation's capital in a program sponsored by the National Foundation for Australian China Relations and ANU. The students enjoyed a three-day immersive experience of Canberra culture and based on the energy and enthusiasm of the students in the room, I predict that this prestigious program will have a long and rich future.”
- Professor Brian Schmidt AC, ANU Vice-Chancellor
We would like to say a huge thank you to all the wonderful speakers and most importantly the scholars, who contributed to making this program such a success. We are truly appreciative of all of the positive feedback that we have received from participants.
“I am deeply thankful for your role in this enriching chapter of my life. Your hard work and dedication have not only made this program a success but have also provided a valuable perspective for one of the most important international relations. Moreover, it encourages young generations who can grasp the rally baton from Dr Stephen FitzGerald AO.”
- Jack Li, 2023 Stephen FitzGerald Scholar
More information on the Program can be viewed here.
View Photos from the Program: Stephen FitzGerald Scholars Program 2023 | Flickr
Article by Julie Hare, featured in the Financial Review: Opinion: The Chinese students primed to deliver soft power