Forty communication students from the University of Newcastle will leave next week for the opportunity of a lifetime - working at the 2008 Olympic Games and Paralympics in Beijing.
The Beijing Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (BOCOG) has invited students from 10 universities across the world to work with the international media contingent as 'flash quote' reporters - gathering information from competitors and providing it quickly and accurately to journalists.
The University of Newcastle is one of three Australian universities invited to participate. The Newcastle contingent is the largest from Australia and the second largest internationally.
Paul Scott, journalism lecturer at the University of Newcastle, said the second and third year Bachelor of Communication students were privileged to have the opportunity to be part of the largest and most prestigious sporting event in the world.
"Only selected universities across the world, including the esteemed Columbia University in New York, have been invited to participate. It will be an amazing experience for students to be involved in the media operations of an international event, in a country very different to Australia.
"Ten of the 40 students will stay on after the Games to also work in similar roles at the Paralympics."
In February this year, two senior members of BOCOG visited Newcastle to select the students. They were interviewed, tested for audio-visual comprehension and recollection, and delivered oral presentations that evaluated communication skills.
Since April, all participating students have completed five training modules designed by BOCOG officers, to prepare for work in the adrenaline-charged atmosphere of Olympic newsrooms.
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nicholas Saunders, last year signed a Memorandum of Understanding with BOCOG to secure the arrangement.
The University's partner in China, the Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU), will train the Newcastle students prior to the Olympics and host them during the Games and Paralympics.
The University will pay for students' return airfares from Sydney to Beijing, and provide assistance with accommodation and food. While the students are in China, they will be special guests at a lunch to be hosted by the Beijing Chapter of the University's global Alumni Network.
The Olympics will be held from August 8 to 21 and the Paralympics from September 6 to 17. The students depart from Sydney on Wednesday 9 July.
Media opportunity: The students will be officially farewelled by the University and Newcastle City Council at 6pm, on Sunday 6 July, at Newcastle City Hall.