Massey delegation visits China's leading universities

On the steps of the Great Hall of the People, from left: Professor Lucid, director of International Relations Michael O’Shaughnessy, Sir Richard Taylor, Mr Spink, Professor Jan Thomas, Weta Workshop’s Andrew Revolta, School of Engineering and Advanced Technology’s Professor Stephen Marsland, College of Creative Art’s Dr Simon Mark, Ms Magiannis, Professor Robinson, Dr Meihana, head of School of Humanities Associate Professor Kerry Taylor

Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas led a delegation of senior Massey University staff to China last week focused on engaging key strategic partners and cementing the University’s reputation as New Zealand’s leading university for collaborative teaching and research with Chinese partner institutions.

The multi-disciplinary delegation included Pro Vice-Chancellor College of Creative Arts Professor Claire Robinson, Assistant Vice-Chancellor Strategy, Finance, IT and Commercial Operations Cathy Magiannis, the director International Relations, the heads of the Schools of Design and Humanities, and representatives from the School of Economics and Finance, School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, and the Institute of Food Science and Technology.

The delegation was also accompanied in Beijing by Massey alumnus and Weta Workshop founder Sir Richard Taylor, New Zealand Ambassador John McKinnon, and Pukeko Pictures chief executive Clive Spink.

Professor Thomas met Madame Peng Liyuan, the First Lady of the People’s Republic of China and Massey University honorary doctorate recipient, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Madame Peng commented favourably on the Massey’s high-quality innovative partnerships in China, noting the ground-breaking Massey-Peking-Shihezi University tripartite partnership, the new joint research centre in applied linguistics with Beijing Language and Culture University and the important relationship with the Academy of Military Culture.

Professor Thomas also met with the Chinese Vice-Minister of Higher Education Dr Lin Huiqing to discuss education policy and collaboration.

The New Zealand Ambassador and Professor Thomas hosted a reception in Beijing, where a new PhD scholarshiip agreement was signed with the China Scholarship Council to jointly fund 10 PhD students to study at Massey each year. Many of the those in attendance had travelled significant distances to attend, with some guests having come from as far afield as Henan, Shanxi, Anhui, Jiangxi and even Xinjiang province 2,500 kilometres away, confirming the strong bond between the University, Chinese partners and alumni.

Professor Jan Thomas with China Scholarship Council deputy secretary-general Zhang Ning and Massey University-China Scholarship agricultural pedagogy training programme alumni

Professor Thomas’ mission commenced with a visit to the Academy of Military Culture, National Defence University of the People’s Liberation Army (formerly the People’s Liberation Academy of Art) to launch a joint fine arts and photography exhibition, featuring the work of the College of Creative Arts photographer Dr Simon Mark. The academy also hosted a creative, fine arts and design symposium, which featured presentations from Sir Richard Taylor, School of Design head Professor Brian Lucid, and lecturer in Māori history Dr Peter Meihana, along with leadership discussions to expand cooperation into new areas including English language and teacher training, Master’s programmes and online learning.

Academy of Military Culture political commissar senior colonel Dong Bing exchanges ideas with Dr Simon Mark and Professor Thomas at the launch of the joint fine arts and photography exhibition

While in Beijing the delegation took the opportunity to visit the New Zealand Centre at Peking University, where Massey has led the way in developing research collaboration engagement through the Centre’s visiting fellowship programme. The visit provided an excellent opportunity for academics from Massey’s Institute of Food Science and Technology, School of Engineering and Advanced Technology School of Humanities to advance relationships with their Peking University counterparts in support of fellowship applications.

The School of Humanities is currently delivering the centre’s annual undergraduate New Zealand history and culture course, led by Dr Peter Meihana. In November the School of Humanities will undertake an international study tour to Peking University with 15 Massey students and led by senior lecturer Dr Michael Li. The study tour will be funded by Education New Zealand under the Prime Minister’s Scholarships for Asia programme.

Massey’s relationship with Peking Univeristy is more than a decade old, based on the establishmetn of the groundbreaking “Three Brothers” tripartite partnership model between Massey, Peking University and Xinjiang’s Shihezi University, in 2005. The success of the “Three Brothers” model led the Chinese Government to replicate it nine times between Chinese and New Zealand universities, as well as exporting the model for partnership to Australian, Scandinavian, Canadian and United States universities.

Professor Thomas travelled to Wuhan University, with which Massey established its first teaching partnership. The programme, which was established in 2007, has seen around 380 students spend two years at Wuhan University’s School of International Education before coming to Massey for a further two years of study to complete a Bachelor of Business Studies.

The visit also provided an opportunity to visit Massey’s first official “Joint College” teaching partnership in information sciences at Hebei University of Technology in Tianjin. The  programme commenced in 2015 and currently has 200 Massey students enrolled, with the first cohort due to travel to New Zealand next year to complete their studies. Two Massey School of Engineering and Technology staff, Dr Amjed Tahir and Dr Stephen Lean, are currently based at the Hebei University of Technology to teach the programme.

Professor Thomas joins Hebei University of Technology President Han Xin, senior staff from both universities and the 200 Massey University-Hebei University of Technology “Joint College” students studying information sciences. Front row from left: Professor Yu Yanhua, Hebei University of Technology; Dr Stephen Lean and Professor Stephen Marsland, School of Engineering and Advanced Technology; Vice-President Li Yantao, Hebei University of Technology; Professor Thomas; President Professor Han Xu, Hebei University of Technology; Mr O’Shaughnessy; Liu Boying, Hebei University of Technology; Professor Yu Ming, Hebei University of Technology; Dr Amjed Tahir, School of Engineering and Advanced Technology; Mrs Han, Hebei University of Technology

Professor Thomas’s final engagement for the week took place at the headquarters of global networking and telecommunications company Huawei in Shenzen, where she signed a major procurement agreement to upgrade the University’s wireless infrastructure and hold strategic discussions with the the organisation’s senior leaders leadership about developing their relationship.

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