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Minister: China and UK start education partnership

Source: China Daily

Yuan Guiren, China's Minister of Education, conducted an interview with Xinhua News Agency, in advance of President Xi Jinping's visit to Britain from October 19 to 23. He noted that educational cooperation between China and the UK currently covers a wide range from basic education to higher education. It has brought benefits to both countries and plays an integral role in promoting Sino-UK relations. Following is the full text:

Educational cooperation is important for bilateral ties.

Q: What role does educational cooperation play in China-UK bilateral ties?

A: President Xi Jinping's state visit to Britain represents an important milestone, and is of great historical significance for development of our future relations. Both sides have a long history and splendid culture, and are committed to national development and the welfare of their people. Since the two sides signed the comprehensive strategic partnership, cooperation in all areas has been constantly expanded and enhanced. Education cooperation is a significant area in Sino-UK cultural exchanges and an important of bilateral ties.

Student exchanges have now entered a period of rapid development.

Q: What about student exchanges?

A: The UK has become a top destination for Chinese students to study overseas and the number of British students in China has increased steadily. China has initiated a series of measures to promote education exchange. The government has increased the number of full scholarships and announced in 2014 that ten thousand government-funded students will study in the UK in the next five years. In 2014, 2400 Chinese government-funded students went to the UK, and China also financed 224 British students to study in China. The number of Chinese students in the UK hit 150 thousand by the end of 2014. In order to call for closer academic exchanges between China and Britain, Britain has put forward the "Generation UK" project. The British government says it will send 80 thousand students to study or intern in China during 2013-2020. In 2014, more than 6000 British students came to China. The increase was an obvious one. Encouraging and supporting more youth to study in one another's country is not only good for students' growth, but also provides inexhaustible power for long-term China-UK relations.

Joint education programs achieved fruitful results.

Q: What are the specific educational projects between two countries?

A: In basic education, secondary school students in Shanghai scored high in their first trial in PISA in 2009, drawing global attention to China's basic education. In 2014, China and the UK decided to select and exchange math teachers from Shanghai and the UK. In vocational education, presidents of secondary vocational schools from both sides headed to partnership schools to share their successful teaching methods. Meanwhile, in order to promote vocational education cooperation, the program introduced joint development between modern apprenticeship and courses. In higher education, PhDs from both sides will continue cooperation in scientific research. Both Chinese and British governments have initiated measures to support high-level cooperation in strategic areas. The China Scholarship Council has set up a scholarship jointly with British universities, including members of Russell Group, to provide financial assistance for Chinese students to study in the UK.

Sino-UK cooperation in joint schools started early and progressed smoothly.

Q: Is there any new progress or highlight of Sino-UK cooperation in joint schools?

A: China-UK cooperation in joint schools started early and progressed smoothly. The Ningbo-Nottingham University was set up in 2004 and Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University was established in 2006, as the first joint schools approved by the Ministry of Education. These trials have now become successful examples. As of the end of August 2015, 17 China-UK jointly-run education institutions and 240 joint programs have been established in China.

At the same time, to enhance education globalization, Chinese universities are accelerating their pace to go abroad. This September, Beijing Normal University and Cardiff University launched the Beijing Normal-Cardiff College. It is a positive exploration of joint education programs and schools in developed countries and another highlight of educational cooperation.

Britain has the largest number of Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms in Europe.

Q: Now there is a new upsurge in learning Chinese in many foreign countries. How about the UK?

A: The United Kingdom leads Europe in teaching and learning of Mandarin, while China has the largest number of English learners.

Language is the carrier of culture and the tool for communication. Both Chinese and British governments have attached great importance to language teaching. On Britain's side, the government emphasizes emphasize the quality and quantity of Mandarin teaching, and the Confucius Institute Headquarters will continue to support Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms in the UK.

Make Sino-UK education exchanges routine and institutionalized.

Q: How will the two countries join hands in education exchange?

A: The two countries have been scheduled to meet at the ministerial level every year for a broad and in-depth exchange on the latest progress of educational reform and to set up the annual cooperation strategy. Since the establishment of cultural exchanges at senior levels in 2012, these meetings have promoted people-to-people exchanges. In September, 2015, 24 cooperation agreements in the educational area were signed during the third meeting at the ministerial level.

At a new historical starting point, we can see a much broader development space and a brighter future for education exchanges. China's Ministry of Education expects to jointly inject new impetus between our countries and promote friendship between the teenagers of both counties. We can jointly usher in a 'golden age for Sino-UK partnership.