Four Chinese academics on a three month visit to the University of Cumbria’s Business School have been impressed by its approach to teaching and learning – but less so by British cuisine and weather.
Business lecturers Prof Jane Zhang, Dr Cindy Lan Mu, Dr Chunzhi Wang and Dr Suzy Zhang from Dalian Nationalities University China in Liaoning Province are spending 12 weeks in Lancaster to compare their teaching techniques with those at the university.
Prof Zhang said: “I’ve been working in higher education for 32 years. I really love teaching. We want to learn from the professors here and share some of our experience with University of Cumbria’s academics.”
The visitors have immediately noticed differences between the two education systems.
At their home university they routinely teach classes of up to 160 students, much larger than the smaller groups found at the University of Cumbria.
And British first years are expected to take more responsibility for managing their schedule than Chinese students, who are overseen by a tutor throughout their studies.
Dr Zhang said: “I don’t think either system is good or bad – it’s just a different culture. In China we have more students and if they manage themselves it gets messy.”
At the end of their visit the academics will write a report on their experience and encourage their students to pursue their overseas studies at the University of Cumbria.
They also hope to develop longer-term partnerships with University of Cumbria academics.
Principal lecturer in international business, Dr Raye Ng ,said: “It is indeed an honour for these four distinguished academics, who have gone through a stringent selection process at their university, to select us as their choice of scholarly exchange programme and consider us as the top destination for their students. This reflects the university’s mission of becoming a world-class provider of higher education.”
The academics are being hosted by local families during their stay, and are quickly adapting to the British way of life – but they are still getting used to the changeable Lancaster weather and have yet to acquire a taste for British food.
The four enjoyed the scenery on a visit to the Lake District recently, where they noticed that the clear air allowed them to see the stars much more clearly than at home.
During their stay they hope to visit several other parts of the UK, including London, Edinburgh, Oxford and Cambridge. University of Cumbria academics will visit Dalian at a later date.