Officials from the University of Western Australia and Kansas State University met in 2012 to discuss collaborations between the two universities as part of KSU's goals to strengthen ties with Australian institutions. Image: K-State News.

Kansas State Strengthens Ties to Australia through Fulbright Exchange


Kansas State University made history in 2013 by becoming the first US educational institute to partner with the Australian-American Fulbright Commission. The group oversees the Fulbright exchange between the US and Australia and has awarded over 4,700 scholarships to Australians and Americans since its inception. The Fulbright Program, begun in 1946, is the largest US scholarly exchange program. It provides students and scholars the opportunity to engage in study, research, and teaching worldwide.

The five-year partnership grants awards to two Australian scholars each year to conduct research at KSU’s campus in collaboration with a university professor for up to six months. The 2014 scholars included Dr. John Pluske of Murdock University, who researched antibiotic resistances in swine populations, and Professor Zdenko Rengel of the University of Western Australia, whose research aimed at developing more efficient wheat varieties.

On February 24th, Kansas State announced the second batch of scholars who will arrive in the summer: Anthony Maeder, professor of health informatics at the University of Western Sydney, and Scott Chapman, crop physiologist from the University of Queensland.

The university is excited about its relationship with Australia, in part because the two regions share many similarities geographically, and because of the importance of agriculture to both Kansas and Australia. The partnership also contributes to the university’s goal of internationalization, serving as “an example of our commitment to advancing and broadening our ongoing international partnerships,” said University President Kirk Schulz.

Kansas State views the aim of growing its connections to Australia as a key component of its goal to become a top 50 public university by 2025. As such, it has ardently pursued exchanges with Australia. Already a leader in the field of biosecurity research, the University has been a member of the Australian Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre since 2012. Furthermore, in the most recent academic year, the school initiated a program called Oz to Oz, which furthers faculty exchange beyond the Fulbright agreement.

Beyond providing opportunities for scholarly exchange, Kansas State also maintains six exchange programs for undergraduate students at Australian universities: the University of Western Australia, the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales, Deakin University, and the University of Canberra.

Chad Westra is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and an undergraduate student at Calvin College.