Solidifying ties

Since establishing its office at the Chongqing University of Science and Technology in 2007, Wilfrid Laurier University has been searching for ways to further cement the tie between the two institutions so that students and faculty have more opportunities to study and teach abroad.

“We are looking at where we can expand our co-operation beyond the exchange [student program]. There are challenges with our students going and studying right now in Chongqing because of the language requirement,” explained Peter Donahue, director of Laurier International.

“We talked about mentoring programs amongst student professionals on both campuses, where we would have professionals going back and forth.”

On Thursday morning, the president of the Chongqing University of Science and Technology, Yan Xinping, gave a presentation highlighting the challenges and situations currently facing the institution and higher education in China. Chongqing, a municipality with a population of approximately 37 million, is growing tremendously on the international economic scale.

Yan had nothing but good words to say about Laurier’s growth in the education sector, noting the reputation of Laurier’s business and arts programs. With the use of a translator, Yan stated that Laurier had a “very beautiful and dynamic campus.”

“You have a very good strategy for the future,” Yan added.

For his presentation, Yan outlined the history of post-secondary education in China since the Maoist revolution in 1949 and how the current state of education is a result of those trends. But with a growing population and changing economic times, universities in China still face numerous challenges.

He explained that reforms in the funding model and the ability to distinguish itself from other universities as some of those challenges. Currently, there are 56 institutions of higher learning in the highly populated area of Chongqing.

Towards the end of his presentation, Yan spoke about Chongqing’s efforts in international study, stating that in 2010 around 265,000 international students were studying there with another 250,000 of students from Chongqing studying abroad in other nations. He hopes to increase these opportunities for Canadian students with Laurier’s help.

“International co-operation is a big trend right now, to share resources,” continued Yan, adding that he visited Laurier to encourage this exchange among the two universities.

Donahue echoed Yan’s statements, “It’s something that we want and try to promote a little bit more amongst to faculty these opportunities, to gain the experience of teaching over seas and then bringing it back to the classroom [in Canada].”

He added that Laurier International hopes to get faculty to teach intensive three months courses in the spring and summer months.

Yan closed off his presentation by calling for a closer “friendship” between the two institutions. “We have a bright future. We are a brother university,” he said.

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