Professor Robert Van de Noort reflects on the events of his eight-day trip to China in September 2023, which was packed with meetings and events with partner institutions, recruitment agents and key players in Chinese education.
He said: “As a University, we have a lot to gain from international collaboration. As well as supporting our strategic ambitions to make a positive difference in the world, global partnerships also present opportunities to reach new student markets. My trip to China last year was intended both to raise Reading’s profile and to explore opportunities for further research and educational collaborations.”
Professor Van de Noort visited both the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) – where students can take a BA Accounting degree programme run with Henley Business School – and the NUIST Reading Academy, at Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology (NUIST) – which has been partnered with Reading since 2009, offering a range of degrees in sciences and social sciences to almost 400 students.
Professor Van de Noort said: “I met with senior leaders at BIT, where they spoke in glowing terms about the current partnership and suggested potential new PhD programmes. NUIST’s President and Vice-President International urged us to build on the NUIST Academy’s strong reputation in China by seeking to expand the partnership to more subjects and work collaboratively to increase the numbers of students transferring to Reading to the levels we experienced before the pandemic.
“Our strong reputation in these subject areas and successful relationships with institutions like these in China, as well as others around the world, will help us stand out from the crowd when attempting to forge and grow collaborations in a competitive global market.
“Our meeting with the Chinese Ministry of Education in Beijing was also fruitful as representatives expressed a mutual appetite for more collaborative programmes, particularly in our strength areas of business and agriculture, and for broadening our joint PhD offering.”
As well as the formal meetings, there were some opportunities for Professor Van de Noort to build relationships, inspire students and showcase Reading at some social events in China.
Professor Van de Noort said: “I was delighted to attend the annual NUIST student enrolment ceremony – a grand affair involving more than 12,000 new students, including almost a full quota of new NUIST-Reading Academy recruits, in their sports stadium. Here, and at an earlier busy student event, I was able to present on our University’s research strengths and our international outlook. I also expressed my support for student and staff mobility to enhance prospects in today’s transnational world, presenting Reading as an attractive destination for international students.”
Professor Van de Noort also hosted over 100 Reading alumni at a Beijing Alumni Reception – read more about this here.
In keeping with the low-carbon ambitions of the University, Professor Van de Noort made the most of this international trip by packing in as much as possible whilst there, and travelling by train within China.
He said: “I’m told that some of the Chinese alumni who attended our Beijing event were quite interested in my transport choices, including flying economy and cycling to work in Reading, in their conversations on social media. It was nice to hear such enthusiasm on an individual level among young people in a country which is now making serious progress on its own green agenda.
“It was a whirlwind stay in China and I’m grateful for the opportunities I had to meet and engage with so many of our University and Alumni community while I was there.”
Professor Van de Noort also shares his experience of Chinese culture and history during his spare time on the trip.