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Statement from Vice-Chancellor Elizabeth Harman on foreign language study

Victoria University's Vice-Chancellor Professor Elizabeth Harman said today that "no student would be disadvantaged as a result of the University's decision to no longer teach Chinese".

Professor Harman said: "An in principle agreement has been reached for VU students who wish to study a Language other than English (LOTE) to undertake those studies at the University of Melbourne (UoM), progressively from 2010."

"It is possible that in addition to the LOTEs Japanese, Chinese and Spanish that will be available for study, there will be extra LOTEs offered by the UoM/VU agreement. This is a clear example of how Victoria University is embracing the Federal Government's call for more collaboration between universities."

"From 2010, VU will only offer one LOTE - Vietnamese. This decision has been made because Vietnamese is an important community language in the west of Melbourne, and as the only provider in Victoria, we will work to strengthen study of that language. Under the collaboration with the UoM, VU will teach Vietnamese language to students from that University.

"The language courses we currently teach at Victoria University are a prime example of a legacy of many small units and courses in Higher Education that we have inherited, where it is difficult to provide students with the quality of courses that they not only want, but deserve."

"Far from withdrawing support for Chinese language, VU students in the Faculty of Arts Education and Human Development will continue to be encouraged to study a LOTE. VU is also working to ensure that courses in VU's other two faculties, are structured to allow room for the study of a language appropriate for Australia's business future and that students are actively encouraged to study such languages."

"VU's first priority is to the communities we serve, which are ethnically diverse and multi-lingual - with more than 40 per cent of our higher education students from non-English speaking backgrounds. Our community is telling us that they want English language programs that help them through their courses of study. Over recent years, relatively few of them have expressed a demand for the LOTEs that we have been teaching. For this reason we will be making arrangements for students who wish to study Chinese, Japanese or Spanish to study these at another University."

"The decisions we have made are solutions that reflect the best outcomes for our students and the communities we serve."

"They are also consistent with the Federal Government's aspiration to see universities become more specialist with their offerings, which will lead to teaching excellence and courses that meet the needs of industry, which will in turn help up-skill Australia."

"There has been suggestions made that VU has accepted funding from the Federal Government's allocation of $62.4 million for the study of Asian languages. I want to categorically state that VU is not an applicant for such funds and has not and will not be accepting funds allocated under that program."

"VU remains strongly committed to the provision of education programs in China, where it is a leading provider of English, TAFE and Higher Education courses - accounting for 5000 out of 30,000 students undertaking Australian Higher Education programs in China. Our largest program with Liaoning University in Shenyang will celebrate its tenth anniversary this year. VU will hold its fourth Offshore Teaching and Learning Conference in July at Sichuan University. This conference will involve some 200 teaching staff at VU and its international partner campuses in China. We will also hold our second graduation ceremony in Beijing on 5 July.

Chinese students account for 30 per cent of the 4000 international students enrolled at VU campuses in Melbourne. They contribute to the inter-cultural learning experience in our classrooms and in education assignments taken with other students in the Australian workplace - through industry placements and community projects."


Media contact:

Andy Gash, A/Media Manager

Marketing and Communications Department, Victoria University

Ph: (03) 9919 4950; mobile: 0411 255 900

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