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From Melbourne, Australia’s Knowledge Capital, to Destination Dublin

Can Melbourne’s dual strategies of knowledge-city development and international student focus be achieved in Dublin?

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Author - Claire Doran


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3. Melbourne: Australia’s Knowledge Capital

The overall objective of developing Dublin as a city-region, and promoting internationalization as one line of action in achieving this objective, corresponds to certain elements of the dual approach taken by Melbourne’s Office of Knowledge Capital (OKC). The OKC was established in 2008 following the Melbourne Vice-Chancellors’ Forum (MVCF) call for closer cooperation between academic, business and government stakeholders, stating that ‘genuine engagement is being sought to position Melbourne as a university city rather than a city with a number of universities’ (MVCF 2007: 13).

The OKC is jointly funded by its members: the City of Melbourne (city council), Committee for Melbourne (an independent group of high-ranking business and community representatives) and the eight universities in Melbourne (Australian Catholic University, Deakin University, La Trobe University, Monash University, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University, Swinburne University of Technology, University of Melbourne, and Victoria University). The universities still promote themselves independently, but the OKC members have realized, in keeping with the literature outlined above, that there are significant benefits to combining their assets and working collaboratively. They believe that ‘a vehicle, such as the OKC, can play an instrumental role in achieving this more successfully with dedicated resources and a common goal’ (OKC 2009a). This goal is ‘to position Melbourne as the “Boston of the southern hemisphere”’ (Mather 2008). With its ranking of 4th in the 2008 Global University City Index, behind London, Boston and Tokyo, Melbourne is on its way to achieving this goal.

The OKC’s strategic objectives and outcomes are to position Melbourne as Australia’s Knowledge Capital, promote collaboration amongst the ‘triple-helix’ stakeholders and develop links and partnerships with like-minded knowledge cities. This involves a dual approach. The first strand aims to position the city as a global Knowledge Capital. The prime strategic elements in this strand are ‘branding and positioning’, development of a knowledge base, communications, connectivity through facilitation and knowledge forums, and collaboration in government programmes. The second strand, that of ‘leveraging whole-of-Melbourne outcomes’, has as its four strategic elements ‘international networking and city partnering’, an ‘International Student Focus’, alignment of activities with the City of Melbourne, and ‘influencing policy’ (OKC 2009b). It is with the strategic elements of ‘branding and positioning’ and ‘international student focus’, which are most closely related to Dublin’s expressed objectives, that this paper is chiefly concerned.

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