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University of Sydney engagement with China: statement

25 September 2017

Statement from Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence to staff regarding the University of Sydney's engagement with China.

The University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence has issued the following statement to staff in response to an article published in The Australian on 23 September 2017:

"You may have seen an article over the weekend with the Group of Eight Chief Executive, which included an implication that the comments of the Chief Executive in the Australian newspaper were somehow endorsed by the University of Sydney. The article refers to the University’s engagement with its Chinese student cohort and its relationship with China more generally. The article contained a number of factual errors and the Chief Executive had no authority from the University to speak in the way in which she did.

"Contrary to the suggestion in the article, no one at the University of Sydney has been forced to apologise about the content of teaching in their class. It is my experience that representatives of the Chinese Government in Australia understand and respect the University’s deep commitment to intellectual freedom.

"The truth is, of course, that the number of foreign states, especially in our region, that share our political values fully is rather small. But they do share our desire to cure cancer, to provide a decent health care system, to build better bridges, to understand our psychology and our past, to battle poverty, to run efficient businesses, to equip students with better mathematical skills, to maintain peace and stability, and so on.  

"While we ought never to surrender our core values as institutions, by taking students from countries throughout our region and the world we build capacity in such areas, we encourage dialogue around points of difference, we equip our domestic students for life in a complex world, and we create friends for Australia around the globe.  Similarly, by engaging in research with our Chinese partners we work for the good of Australia, our region and the world. That is part of our purpose, and our responsibly at the University of Sydney, and something of which we are enormously proud."  

Media and PR Office