Last Friday, Siren Lan, the president of China’s Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University (FAFU) visited Dalhousie to discuss Dal’s ongoing relationships with his university.
The Faculty of Agriculture has had a 2+2 program with FAFU — in which students receive dual degrees after spending time at both institutions — for 11 years, bringing over 300 students to Truro. FAFU also has a 2+2 agreement with Dal’s Faculty of Computer Science and the Faculty of Agriculture’s new Landscape Architecture program will operate, in part, as a 3+1 program with FAFU.
The visit came less than two weeks after Dalhousie was in China visiting FAFU, as well as four other major Chinese universities. The delegation, the first trip to China for Dal President Richard Florizone, was focused on building relationships with key universities in a country in which Dal has more than 30 active international agreements and from which it welcomes more than 1,000 students each year.
The fact that the visit involved Dr. Florizone was important: according to Alain Boutet, Dalhousie’s executive director of international relations, Chinese universities greatly value prestige, and the presence of a university president helps indicate the importance of the collaborations being discussed.
And, indeed, Dr. Boutet says these collaborations are quite important: as the Chinese university sector grows rapidly, it presents many exciting opportunities to partner in areas such as oceans, computer science, agriculture and others.
“Dalhousie’s international strategy, as we’ve mapped it out, is based around creating well-rounded partnerships with a focused number of institutions,” explains Dr. Boutet. “We’re looking for deep, collaborative partnerships that include a number of dimensions: student mobility, faculty mobility, research collaboration and student recruitment — at the graduate level, certainly, and also at the undergraduate level.”
Two of the universities with which Dal signed new agreements during the China visit were the Ocean University of China and Nanjing University. These are two of the country’s top schools, and ones with which Dal partnerships have gained a degree of momentum in the past several months.
With Ocean University of China — an institution that also works closely with Kiel University in Germany, another major Dal partner in ocean studies — Dalhousie signed an MOU focused on ocean studies, marine life sciences, mathematics and statistics, materials science, and environmental science. The two universities also signed a student exchange program agreement.
As for Nanjing University, with which Dal signed an MOU in Halifax this fall, the schools discussed further development of a collaborative academic and scientific program that links Dal’s Faculties of Science and Law with the Nanjing Collaborative Innovation Centre of South China Sea. The program would involve an international symposium starting in 2015, visiting professorships, collaborative research projects, the possibility of join doctoral programs and more. A student exchange program agreement was also signed.
New and existing partnerships
In addition to those schools, Dal began exploration of a collaboration with Peking University, China’s top school, in the area of health sciences. Dal also visited Shandong University of Finance & Economics (SDUFE) to reinforce the schools’ joint undergraduate degree programs in Economics and Mathmatics & Statistics. Since the Economics program began in 2009, more than 200 students from SDUFE have studied at Dalhousie.
Now, says Dr. Boutet, work continues on fleshing out these emerging and ongoing partnerships.
“It’s about ensuring the connections are well supported/championed at the Faculty level where they have started, as well as across the university,” he says.
Learn more about Dal’s international activities.
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