On Tuesday March 8th, a contingent of eight Yenching Scholars paid a visit to China's Ministry of Education to engage in an illuminating round table discussion with education officials including the Deputy Director-General of the Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges, Mr. Fang Jun.
After a brief round of introductions, the scholars enjoyed a candid and informal conversation about the Ministry's goals and projects with regard to foreign students and study abroad opportunities in China. In recent years, the Ministry of Education has seen a large upswing in the number of foreign students coming to China to pursue their education. Mr. Fang spoke of the importance of developing understanding and appreciation of China among young global leaders as a crucial aspect of international cooperation. To this end, Chinese education officials hope to raise the number of foreign students in China to 500,000 by the year 2020.
Other topics of discussion included China's attempt to build stronger educational ties with the developing world as well as the Ministry's ongoing initiative to encourage Chinese scholars to study a wider variety of foreign languages. Along similar lines, Deputy Director-General Fang discussed the Ministry's commitment to offering a broader selection of courses taught in foreign languages at Chinese universities. In response to the scholars' concerns about remaining China post-graduation, ministry officials revealed that efforts were under way to reduce restrictions on employing foreign graduates in certain sectors and to ease the process of obtaining a work visa.
The meeting concluded with a photo opportunity for the scholars and ministry staff. Yenching Scholar Tian Meng was impressed by scope and nature of the Ministry's various initiatives. "From the perspective of a Chinese student as well as someone who got a degree in education, it is very exciting to hear about the efforts our ministry has made toward the internationalization and globalization of higher education", she remarked. Additionally, the visit helped the Scholars to better understand the institutional framework that shaped the Yenching Academy and other study abroad programs in China. "Deputy Director-General Fang was very helpful and candid in addressing our questions about Chinese higher education," said Scholar Liki Ng. "It was fascinating to be privy to some of the policy considerations that shape the system within which the Academy operates."