In November an academic delegation, led by UCL President and Provost Professor Michael Arthur, visited China to strengthen the deep strategic partnership with Peking University (PKU) and deepen the connection between UCL and its Chinese alumni. The group visited Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing and met with leaders from PKU, Hanban Headquarters, UK government officials, business leaders and Chinese UCL alumni.
UCL IOE Confucius Institute (IOE CI) Director and Pro-Vice Provost (East Asia) Katharine Carruthers, played a key role during the trip and told us about her experience.
Q. Who from UCL took part in the visit?
The Provost’s delegation included Professor Alan Thomson (Dean of Faculty of Brain Sciences), Professor Vivienne Lo (Director of the China Centre for Health and Humanity and a visiting professor at PKU), Professor Nikolaos Konstantinidis (Vice-Dean International for Mathematical and Physical Sciences), Michael Manlangit (Programme Director for MBA and International Programmes) and Charles Hymas (Head of Media Relations). Interestingly, Professor Lo will also be teaching a module for an interdisciplinary master’s programme at the Yenching Academy of Peking University next year.
Q. UCL and PKU have signed a new strategic agreement to tackle global challenges. How do you feel that IOE CI support this strategy?
Because our Confucius Institute has been working with Peking University since 2006, we already have a long history of engagement with them and we also have a solid relationship with Peking University School of Chinese as a Second Language. So that puts us in a very good position to be helpful – we are well-known in the campus at Peking University, so I like to think it’s useful for UCL to have such a strong Confucius Institute as part of the overall relationship with PKU. It’s also great for us to have institutional support from UCL – it’s a win-win. PKU can be assured that there is a strong base here with our Confucius Institute being a centre for teacher training and research and a huge asset. During the trip the relationship between UCL President Michael Arthur and PKU President Lin Jianhua was warm and cordial. The Provost had the opportunity to see PKU’s School of Management, School of Chinese as a Second Language and Yenching Academy. It is great to be a part of the collaboration between UCL and PKU and to see how the partnership is developing organically between academic groupings.
Q. What was your impression of the UCL alumni network in China? How was the graduation ceremony in Beijing? I heard that you greeted the graduates in Chinese and read out the names of graduates at the ceremony.
The UCL alumni groups in China are thriving. It’s encouraging to see people feel a real pride in being a graduate of UCL and wanting to be part of the network. The graduation ceremony was UCL’s first graduation ceremony held in China. It took place in Beijing and was attended by students, parents of students, grandparents and siblings, and there was a happy atmosphere. They were delighted that the President and Provost of UCL was there to award them their degrees. We had two ceremonies, one in the morning and one in the afternoon and both times the room was filled to capacity.
Q. You have successfully raised the profile of the UCL IOE CI nationally and internationally. What advice would you give to young people who look up to you and hope to become an inspiring leader like you one day?
Think hard, work hard and be motivated. You need to look for opportunities and make sure you take them. If you are leading it is important to understand others and create a happy and motivating working environment.
Finally, in our case, it is very important to have the ability to work cross-culturally – that’s the strength I like to think our Confucius Institute has.
Image: 北京大学 Peking University (Credit: LWYang via Flickr)