The first conference between Australian and Spanish universities, “Building Bridges between the Australian and Spanish University systems”, that was held on Monday 30th May as an hybrid (in-person + online) event and jointly organised by SRAP, Instituto Cervantes Sydney, Macquarie University, and the Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities (CRUE) has been a big success, with more than 100 participants attending, many from several universities in Australian and Spain.
The full recording of the event is available in the YouTube channel of the Instituto Cervantes Sydney.
The event was chaired by Ms Coral Martínez Íscar, director of the Instituto Cervantes in Sydney, who also emphasised the importance of promoting Spanish language and culture through research. The Excellence Chancellor from Sevilla University, Prof. Miguel Ángel Castro, opened the conference, followed by the Spanish consul-general in Sydney, Mr. Javier Carbajosa Sánchez, who remarked their full support for starting fruitful research collaborations between Australian and Spanish Universities through joined PhD students.
Then, Prof. Tracy Rushmer (Associate Dean, Research Training and Performance, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Macquarie University) provided a presentation of the education system in Australia. Ms Agnieszka Baginsk (Strategic and International Manager, Graduate Research Academy, Macquarie University) continued the presentation talking about research and integration with Industry in Australia.
After presenting how the high degree research (HDR) works in Australia, Prof. Carles Padilla, Vice-rector for internationalization and multilingualism at the University of Valencia in representation of the group of internationalization of CRUE (representing Spanish universities) and Prof. Carmen Vargas, Vice-rector for strategy at the University of Seville, provided a presentation of the education system in Spain.
The last talk was given by Dr. Ángel López-Sánchez (Senior Lecturer and HDR Director at the Australian Astronomical Optics, Macquarie University, and SRAP President), who briefly introduced SRAP to this broad audience, before presenting a pioneer Australia- Spain Cotutelle PhD Program at Macquarie University. In a cotutelle PhD program a candidate is jointly enrolled at 2 universities. The student spends approximately half their time at each university. At the conclusion of the research, a single thesis is prepared and submitted for independent examination by both universities. Upon successful completion of the program, the candidate graduates from both universities with a Doctor of Philosophy.
During the presentation, Dr. Ángel López-Sánchez and Prof. Tracy Rushmer announced that Macquarie University has launched a pioneer PhD cotutelle program with Spanish universities. Macquarie University will fund at least 2 PhD students in cotutelle between Macquarie University and partner universities in Spain following this program.
The first step is putting in contact potential PhD cotutelle program joint supervisors at a department at Macquarie University and another department at a Spanish University. Once the cotutelle PhD program is identified, the Spanish university and Macquarie will jointly advertise and recruit a student suitable for this program. The student needs to meet PhD entry criteria at both universities and needs to satisfy the English proficiency requirements (scored a minimum 6.5 overall in IELTS, all sub bands 6.0) to apply for the cotutelle scholarship provided by Macquarie University for this program.
If a proposed candidate is already enrolled at a Spanish university or at Macquarie University, they must have at least 24 months remaining in the PhD candidature at the time of joint enrolment and be able to adequate time in each campus (typically 14 – 18 months, and a minimum of 12 months, for a 3-year PhD).
The scholarship includes the payment of the tuition fees at Macquarie University for up to 3 years, a stipend while on Macquarie University campus, and a return economic flight between Spain and Australia.
Instituto Cervantes Sydney and the Spanish Researchers in Australia-Pacific (SRAP) will also cooperate covering the costs for the Australian visa and Australian medical insurance, that are usually paid directly by the student, as well as providing logistic support and advise.
It is expected that the partner Spanish university will provide a similar scholarship to the cotutelle PhD student (payment of the tuition fees for the duration of the PhD and a stipend while on the Spanish campus).
Cotutelles that include a collaboration with an industry partner are welcome.
From SRAP we are looking forward that more Australian universities establish a similar program, that will definitely increase and strengthen the research collaboration between Australia and Spain.