UCL and China
6 January 2004
Professor Malcolm Grant, UCL's President & Provost, led a UCL delegation to Peking University, Beijing, in December 2003 to officially launch the new International Centre for Chinese Heritage & Archaeology, which will have offices and activities in both institutions.
Professor Peter Ucko, Director of UCL's Institute of Archaeology, said: "The centre will create a genuine and meaningful partnership between two of the most important archaeological institutes in the world. Outside organisations will be welcomed to help the centre develop specialist knowledge about China's past and to safeguard China's cultural heritage."
The new centre aims to develop and promote new ideas and technologies relating to Chinese archaeology and heritage, with particular focus on the most appropriate methods of excavation, conservation and management of archaeological sites. It will raise public awareness of China's rich heritage, and make this material more accessible. Training and research will be conducted at the centre, concentrating on areas that are underdeveloped in China, particularly conservation, public archaeology, archaeobotany and archaeometallurgy. In addition, a new Senior Lectureship in Chinese Archaeology has been established at UCL.
A delegation of the presidents of seven of China's top universities and Chinese Ministry of Education Officials recently visited UCL, and were joined by British Council advisors and journalists from all over China.
Professor David Norse, UCL's Pro-Provost for China, explained: "The visit by the Chinese university presidents was a high-level exchange that forms part of a programme of collaboration in higher education with China, which is supported by the Chinese Ministry of Education, the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the British Council. The purpose of this year's visit was to strengthen the relationships already established, and to provide opportunities for building new ones. UCL already has numerous links with Chinese institutions: the Institute of Child Health has a long-running research programme with Zheijiang University, I have a agricultural pollution programme with China Agricultural University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Department of Geomatic Engineering has one with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Lanzhou, and the Faculty of Engineering has a large teaching programme with the Dalian University of Technology."
Another firmly established relationship is between UCL's Environmental Change Research Centre (ECRC) and the Department of Geography at Lanzhou University, Western China. Dr Jonathan Holmes (ECRC), who has conducted research and taught at Lanzhou University, said: "Lanzhou has a long history of research into environmental change, especially the examination of lake sediments, and UCL is very strong in that area. We've had collaborations on three levels for some time - joint research projects, teaching and course design, and postgraduate student links." In China there is increased importance on learning in English, and the Chinese are very interested in learning about the UK's course structures and management. Dr Holmes explained: "As an outgrowth of our staff exchanges, Dr Jiawu Zhang (Lanzhou) received a prestigious Royal Society Sino-British Fellowship Trust award to conduct research at UCL, examining lake sediments on the Tibetan plateau. In terms of developing research programmes and encouraging students to come to UCL, these collaborations are extremely important."
A bright future
This is a sentiment shared by the president of Lanzhou University, Professor Li Fashen. During the visit he said: "I already know UCL as an excellent UK university. Our university has a long history of cooperation with UCL in the field of geosciences, so we already know each other - the reputation of UCL is very good. In comparison to other foreign countries, in the field of higher education, China has learned a lot from the UK, so our system is much more similar to the British one than to that of other Western countries. I think it's a good background for us to conduct future collaboration."
There are more than 500 Chinese students at UCL, as well as 17 students on the new University Preparatory Certificate for Science & Engineering, designed for overseas students who would not otherwise be eligible to apply for undergraduate degrees at leading UK universities. The UCL Language Centre also provides almost 80 Chinese students with language courses.
To find out more about these activities, use the links below.