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More universities motivated to go abroad for exchanges

By Zhuan Ti | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-02 08:14

More universities motivated to go abroad for exchanges

Residents and tourists take a break at a park in Xiamen, Fujian province. [Photo by ZHU QINGFU/CHINA DAILY]

As the historical starting point of the Maritime Silk Road, Fujian province's universities are exploring opportunities to expand their ties with and presence in countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

The institutions have founded new programs and centers, drawing academic communities from various countries closer together.

Xiamen University has established its first overseas branch in Malaysia. It is said to be the first of its kind to be entirely funded by a Chinese university and is an independent campus. Construction started in October 2014, with the branch welcoming its first batch of students in February 2016.

Zhu Chongshi, president of Xiamen University, said most of the students at the new branch are from Malaysia, China and other member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Its goal is to become a comprehensive international university, according to Zhu.

"It is definitely not an easy job to set up an overseas branch," he said.

Malaysia is an Islamic country with multi-ethnic groups and a diversified culture, he explained. It is also different from China in terms of its political systems and laws.

"This reminds us to keep our eyes open all the time," he said. "Whatever decisions we make, we have to abide by Chinese laws as well as Malaysian laws."

The cultural and custom differences require teachers to adjust their teaching methods and take religious factors into consideration.

Zhang Bing, a teacher from Fujian Police College, said the school has trained nearly 400 policemen and law enforcement officers from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America since 2010.

Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine has held nearly 100 training sessions covering traditional Chinese medical knowledge, such as acupuncture, for foreign medical staff members from more than 10 countries since 1986.

Huaqiao University has run a Mandarin language training class for officials from Thailand for more than 10 years.

More than 600 officials have participated in the classes, including officials from many important government departments in Thailand.

More countries have planned to join similar language programs run by the university.

Zeng Lu, vice-president of Huaqiao University, said more and more institutions are motivated by the Belt and Road Initiative to go abroad. However, universities should seek an area, which is suitable for them to seek international cooperation, he said. For instance, not all the universities are qualified to provide language training.

"Many universities are promoting similar language training, which has caused cutthroat competition," he said.

Ye Yang, an official from the Department of Education in Fujian, said that in order to attract students from countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, the provincial government has earmarked a special fund to set up a special scholarship for students from these countries.

Statistics from the Fujian provincial education department showed that by August this year, there were 8,836 foreign students studying in the province with the help of Chinese government scholarships.

This year, Fujian province set aside 10 million yuan ($1.52 million) in funding for foreign students. A large part of the funding will go to students from countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative. So far, 369 students from Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Cambodia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos and Singapore have benefited from the fund.


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