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Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

The increase in scientific and academic exchanges is further evidence of the flourishing relations between the two countries. A scheme to strengthen scientific links was set up in 2003, consisting of a programme of actions 50% funded by Australia’s Department of Research (700 scientific cooperation projects annually). Health, environment, water and resource management, energy and transport are priority sectors addressed by the scheme, which is operated via the FEAST (Forum for European-Australian Science and Technology) network. France’s medical research institute INSERM and the University of Melbourne recently signed a cooperation agreement on biomedical research.

The Hubert Curien Partnerships programme, which came to an end in 2012, supported cooperation in key areas by providing grants for researchers to work abroad, and achieved very positive results. It has now been replaced by a new scheme, known as the French Australian Scientific Innovation Cooperation (FASIC) programme. On 5 July 2011, French and Australian development agencies AFD and AUSAID signed a cooperation agreement on Africa, with special emphasis on agriculture and climate risk.

Cooperation at university level is another key element of bilateral relations. Australia welcomed 6,000 French students in 2011, 3,000 of them studying at university. There are currently 230 cooperation agreements in place between French and Australian universities, enabling hundreds of students to take part in exchange programmes covering every academic discipline. Courses in business studies, arts and the humanities are particularly sought after. French and Australian universities have also established a number of dual graduate and post-graduate degrees. An agreement on mutual recognition of academic qualifications was signed in October 2009, enabling students to pursue their studies in the partner country and providing an official framework from which both students and universities benefit.

"Australia Day", organised by CampusFrance in January 2012, gave renewed energy and impetus to partnerships between higher education institutions in France and Australia. Under the terms of a tripartite agreement signed on 16 March 2011, a branch of France’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, EHESS) was created at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. EHESS-Canberra will coordinate Pacific studies by English-speaking and French-speaking researchers. A programme of internships in French companies has been in place since 2010, offering Australian students an opportunity to intern with French firms based in Australia. Students spend half of their one-year internship in Australia and the other half at company headquarters or a subsidiary in France.

France continues to be one of the most widely studied modern languages in Australia, particularly in secondary and higher education, second only to Japanese. The Alliance Française network in Australia consists of 31 centres teaching French to some 10,000 students. Australia is also home to a number of schools accredited by the French Ministry of Education (Telopea Park School Lycée Franco-Australien and Red Hill French Australian Preschool in Canberra, the Lycée Condorcet International French School in Sydney and a primary school in Melbourne).

France is one of Australia’s leading cultural partners. Cooperation mainly takes the form of partnerships, to a large extent financed by Australian operators. French artists and performers appear frequently at arts festivals in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. The 23rd Alliance Française Film Festival, held in March and April 2012, drew audiences of around 126,000 to venues in Australia’s capital cities. Australian museums also frequently play host to major exhibitions. In 2010, for example, the Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay exhibition, featuring 120 major works, attracted almost half a million visitors to the National Gallery in Canberra. Exhibitions of the works of Picasso in Sydney and Matisse in Brisbane, both running until March 2012, also drew enthusiastic crowds.

Updated on 14.01.13

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