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September 20, 2009

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Flowers for teacher prompt a university's gratitude

A VISITING group of senior university leaders from Australia were amazed to see Shanghai students carrying bunches of flowers into class last week.

"You wouldn't find Australian males carrying bunches of flowers anywhere, let alone to a university," lamented professor Michael Keniger after he learned of the Chinese custom for students to celebrate their teachers.

But he turned it into a chance to thank the University of Queensland's former students in Shanghai for placing their trust in the institution's teachers to deliver the academic standards they required.

"It's a particular pleasure for me to thank our alumni for making the big decision to come to UQ in the first place but also the way that they have used their learning to contribute to the world's economy and culture," he told a group of about 200 former students and friends of the university.

Keniger, senior deputy vice chancellor of UQ, one of Australia's top-three universities, was leading a delegation through major Chinese cities where alumni events were central activities, as well as visits to major Chinese universities such as Fudan.

"It's a pleasure to come to a city like Shanghai which is so extraordinarily confident and which is bustling with activity and sophistication in the way it's preparing for the transformation that will be brought by next year's Expo event," he said.

"I was pleased to hear that Shanghai will meet its 9 percent growth target for the year whereas in Australia we are congratulating ourselves on 0.6 percent growth, but at least we're not going backward.

"It's tremendous to see such a buoyant place that we have been able to contribute to through our alumni," he said.

He said UQ had won more national teaching awards than any other university in Australia and was one of the country's leading universities for commercialization of research, a highlight being the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil developed with professor Ian Frazer which has already changed the lives of about 35 million women in the world.


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