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Last month saw the official launch of the University’s new Confucius Institute, a joint venture between Lancaster University and its overseas partner, the South China University of Technology.
Since December 20th 2011, the Institute’s doors have been officially open for business, with the aim of enhancing the cultural and linguistic opportunities in Mandarin Chinese for both students and staff alike.
The Institute also hopes to branch out in offering language and culture lessons to local businesses, schools and communities. The facility’s website states that a key objective of this initiative is to help promote and support North-West enterprise through the application of three key ‘themes’: innovation, sustainable development and China itself.
Manager Colette Webb expressed the belief held by her and her colleagues, stressing that it is “important to equip students, staff and local business to work better with and in China.”
The Institute, located in the Round House at the top of the north spine on campus, will also provide credit-bearing courses in Mandarin Chinese to students looking to study the language as part of their degree. Separate beginners’ courses are open to students and staff studying the language for the first time, with the choice between two two-hour sessions hopefully providing those wishing to participate with a degree of flexibility in their new subject.
Classes will run throughout the Lent term in blocks of two hours per week, for a total of 18 hours in nine weeks for students and 20 hours in ten weeks for staff.
The Confucius Institute will also facilitate a series of seminars, lectures and special performances to celebrate festivals, such as the forthcoming Chinese New Year in the Spring-time.
This latest cultural and academic innovation occurred only two months after the signing of a separate international collaboration agreement between Professor Zhong Weihe, President of Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, and Professor Paul Wellings, the previous Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University.
Along with the interest in the Chinese language and culture already expressed through students’ participation in societies such as the Chinese Society and Wing Chun Kung Fu Chinese martial arts society, new avenues of communication and learning can now be facilitated at an academic level, complimenting the existing research in this field already undertaken at Lancaster.
Professor Wang, President of South China University of Technology in Guangdong, said: “The establishing of the Confucius Institute has great significance in the exchange of education and culture between our two countries. The British Higher Education system is an important model for China and we hope to learn from each other, inspire each other and have a mutually beneficial relationship.”
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Bob McKinlay also expressed enthusiasm about the new endeavour. “We are delighted that the Confucius Institute will enable us to broaden and deepen our ties with China,” he said.