Edinburgh Napier Business School in visit to the ‘New Shanghai’
In early June, I participated in a British Council (Scotland) mission to build financial services links with China. The high-profile visit saw me join counterparts from Heriot Watt, Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian, Dundee and the Robert Gordon Universities and from Scotland’s Colleges on a trip to the city of Tianjin, east of Beijing. Owen Kelly, Chief Executive of Scottish Financial Enterprise was also involved.
Dubbed the ‘new Shanghai’ by some observers, Tianjin (population 12 million) is a growing centre for a range of industries and is developing its financial services sector. The visit aimed to establish links between higher education and business which would hopefully lead to significant flows of new investment between Scotland and Tianjin. The mission fulfilled a commitment to build partnerships in the Memorandum of Understanding agreed between Scotland and the municipal government of Tianjin during a visit by First Minister Alex Salmond in July 2010.
In the press release regarding the trip, I said: "Edinburgh Napier University has had strong academic links with a number of higher education Institutions in China for some time and we welcome large numbers of Chinese students to our programmes every year.
We are looking forward to using our particular expertise in financial education to form collaborative links with institutions in Tianjin and we will be proposing a number of ways in which we think we can assist in its progress towards becoming the next major financial centre in China."
It is worth just emphasising the strength of these links and I have to say that I was really impressed with the extent to which our strategy in relation to developing relationships with Chinese Universities and recruiting Chinese students compared very favourably with those of my fellow travellers’ Institutions. As many of you may know, we now visit our Chinese partners on two occasions in the year, in September to manage the on-going relationship and speak with prospective students about Edinburgh, the University and our programmes. We then visit again in April to interview students whose English language skills are not sufficient for them to gain automatic entry to our programmes. We are also looking to develop new partnerships and, each year, we visit Universities for the first time with a view to developing a relationship and recruiting students in future years.
We work very closely with Xiaojun Cui in the International Office and with our colleagues in our China Office in Beijing and, as a consequence of this concerted effort, around 350 students will be joining Business School programmes in September. Some 300 of them will be attending English language programmes in the summer to ensure that they are as equipped as possible for their studies here.
One particularly innovative model which was developed two years ago identifies groups of Accounting students as prospective Edinburgh Napier students at the outset of their studies in China. They study for two years in China and then move to Edinburgh to complete the final two years of their BA Honours Accounting degree and the programme is structured in such a way that, on completion, they have maximum exemptions from the professional ACCA examination programme. We try to visit whenever we are in China to help to establish the students’ links with Edinburgh Napier and colleagues from the School have visited to undertake some teaching in each of the past two years. The first group of around 25 students are due to join us in September. This model is attracting quite a lot of interest and we are hoping to offer it in a number of partner Institutions, not least one of the Universities which I visited in Tianjin.
We all know how important our recruitment of Chinese students is, not just to the Business School but also to the University and I am very grateful for all the support we receive from our colleagues across the Faculty in our efforts to develop and manage these key relationships with Chinese Universities and to recruit students.
Head of School
Accounting, Financial Services and Law