Undergraduate students that would have been going to the University New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia were instead given a virtual welcome lecture by university representatives yesterday.
The lecture hosted at Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB), was to provide the undergraduate students in Petroleum Engineering, with the necessary information and resources that were available from UNSW, as they were unable to travel to Sydney in time to start their academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In her opening remarks, Vice-Chancellor of UTB Professor Dr Hajah Zohrah binti Haji Sulaiman said that it was unfortunate that the UNSW students in Brunei were unable to travel to Sydney, but their safety and well-being are the university’s top priority.
She believed that the session was extremely beneficial for the students as they are able to ask questions and be informed on mitigation measures that the Australian High Commission in Brunei Darussalam, UNSW and UTB were developing to assist them whilst they were unable to travel to Australia.
High Commissioner of Australia to Brunei Darussalam Tiffany McDonald said that while Australia welcomes the ongoing partnership between the universities, their priority remains bringing Australian citizens home.
“For now, supporting Australians return home, especially vulnerable Australians, is the Australian Government’s priority.
“This means that international student arrivals can only be considered when Australians wishing to come back to Australia have returned in substantial numbers,” said McDonald.
However, she said that Australian universities had made the transition to online learning where practical and had also provided student support services and pastoral care online.
“Australian institutions have a depth of experience in online and distance education through agile teaching and learning practices that respond to the needs of students,” she said.
The high commissioner also spoke on Austrlia and Brunei’s long time cooperation in the
education sector. “Australia and Brunei’s longstanding education links are demonstrated by the growing Australian alumni community in Brunei, which is made up of about 12,000 Bruneians who have studied in Australia.”
McDonald highlighted that the Australian alumni community in Brunei consists of successful professionals, including ministers, Legislative Council members, senior government officials, senior business representatives, and influential creatives, who they engage with on a regular basis.
She also highlighted the continued cooperation between UNSW and UTB added to the academic cooperation between the two countries.
The welcome lectures were conducted by UNSW representatives including the Dean of Engineering Stephan Foster, Head of Minerals and Engineering School Professor Ismet Canbulat and Discipline Leader of Petroleum Engineering Professor Klaus Regenauer-Lieb. Also present at the UTB Lecture Theatre were UTB principal officers, staff and students.