International Course On River Basin Management


Tsinghua University and the University of Melbourne have developed a very productive collaboration in the area of water management since 2010. The outcomes include: 5 collaborative research projects, 5 PhD students and academic exchange, 7 co-published journal papers and a Tsinghua student study tour program at the University of Melbourne involving 15 Tsinghua undergraduate students and two young academics. Tsinghua University and the University of Melbourne are now developing two five-year flagship research programs in water resources and water quality. These are built on previous and on-going programs including;

  • “Managing the Threats to Sustainable Water Resources Development”, funded by Aus-AID Australia-China Environment Development Program (ACEDP),
  • “The Australia China Joint Research Centre on River Basin Management (Water resources and water quality)” funded by DIISRTE Australia,
  • “Integrated Hydrology-ecology-economical Model for Inland River Basin Management” funded by Natural Science Foundation of China and
  • “Internet Water in River Basins” funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology China.

The new programs look to demonstrate three Australian water technologies (Total Channel Control (Rubicon), On-Farm (NICTA and the University of Melbourne) and Water trading (DEPI)) in two inland river basins in North-western China as well as 3-5 joint PhD projects. It is expected that a water centre between Tsinghua University and the University of Melbourne will be established in the second half of 2014 and that academics from Tsinghua University will be involved in a major Australian funding bid in “Regional Water Productivity” in 2014.

Development of the course

Pilot course on International River Basin Management at Tsinghua University in 2012

The development of an international course on river basin management was proposed in 2011 during the implementation of the ACEDP research project. The aim of the course was to provide future water managers with the practice-driven river basin management knowledge/skill by linking cutting-edge science/technology to updated management/policy in the river basins of Australia and China. It was designed as an intensive course to give graduate students insights into the diverse and complex world of river basin management.  In addition, it was broad and cross-disciplinary, exploring and focusing on issues of governance, environmental and climate science, water engineering, economics and the social consequences of the reforms in the Murray Darling Basin, Australia and the Yellow River Basin, China.

A probationary course was conducted at Tsinghua University in August 2012. The course was an intensive one week program (selective, one credit at Tsinghua University, equivalent to half of a 12.5 point subject at the University of Melbourne). Twenty-two students enrolled in this course. Lecturers for the course were Professor John Langford (40%) from the University of Melbourne, Professor Zhongjing Wang (40%) from Tsinghua University and Mr Weigong Luan (20%), Deputy Director of Gansu Provincial Water Resource Department. The course was highly commended by the students and Professor Si Yuan, Provost of Tsinghua University strongly supported its continuation. The ACEDP review panel also highly recommended this course as a product of the combination of science and practice in river basin management between Australia and China.

Chinese students visiting Australia in 2012