A new partnership struck between two leading universities will see more Chinese students studying in the Lake District.
Early this week, the University of Cumbria signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Guizhou Medical University (GZMU) in China that will allow selected students to complete their final year at the University of Cumbria’s Ambleside campus.
The agreement will see students specially selected by GZMU, who have completed the first-three years of their four-year Chinese outdoor sports degree to progress to the BA (Hons) Outdoor and Experiential Learning [top up] programme, in lieu of their final year at GZMU.
The GZMU students will also be able to apply to study at master’s level and stay in the UK for an additional year once they have completed their top-up degree. Or they will be able to apply for a UK master's degree directly, having completed the first year of a master's degree in China.
The students will be based at Ambleside where they will experience life at an idyllic English campus and gain the enviable opportunity to study in an UNESCO national park in the university’s Institute of Science, Natural Resources and Outdoor Studies (ISRNOS), which is widely regarded as one of the leading national providers of outdoor education.
The MoU was signed at an event hosted by GZMU at which the British Ambassador to China, Caroline Wilson, was in attendance. The ceremony took place on Monday 12 July at 12 noon in China, 5:00am, UK time.
Professor Rob Trimble, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) gave a speech via live video link as part of the ceremony.
He said on the partnership: “the University of Cumbria is delighted to be able to establish this partnership with the prestigious Guizhou Medical University.
“Working together in partnership, our two universities will seek to encourage and develop a range of collaborative activities, which will include scholarly exchange, the development and delivery of new programmes and advanced entry to University of Cumbria degrees for appropriately qualified students.
“We look forward to great achievements and a long-lasting and sustainable partnership through our cooperation.”
In addition to progression to the top-up programme, the MoU also outlines that both universities will also explore further opportunities to work together on research projects and new educational programmes.
Presiding over the signing of the agreement, British Ambassador to China, Caroline Wilson, declared:
“China is a country of huge strategic importance to the UK across a broad range of mutual interests. Education plays a key role in developing that wider relationship with important social benefits for both countries. The UK has rich experience in taking innovative ideas and research outcomes to benefit local industries. British universities and research institutions can carry out knowledge transfer projects overseas, working with companies directly or through research university partners here in China.
“The UK is a leading Trans-National Education (TNE) partner for China, with over 230 joint degree partnerships in operation. We look forward to seeing the collaboration between University of Cumbria and Guizhou Medical University.”
Outdoor education is a burgeoning field in China with only a handful of universities there offering courses.
Helen Manns, Director of the Institute for SNROS, said: “the Institute is really pleased to have this opportunity to partner with Guizhou Medical University. We already have a reputation as a leading provider of outdoor education nationally, and this partnership provides the opportunity to enhance our growing international reach and reputation.
“We look forward to welcoming students from GZMU to our undergraduate and master’s programmes and over time hope to develop academic exchange and collaborative research opportunities too. This is one of a number of articulation partnerships the Institute is developing with Chinese universities.”
All parties expect that the partnership will see an influx of Chinese students and visitors to the lakes, which already welcomes tourists to the national park and the hugely popular Kendal Mountain Festival.
Mike Smith OBE, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership Board Member and Chair of its People, Employment and Skills Strategy Group, added: “The relationship with Guizhou Medical University (GZMU) provides the perfect opportunity to further cement this relationship and provide Chinese students with the opportunity to experience Cumbria whilst at the same time benefit from the University of Cumbria’s excellent Higher Education offer.”
The first cohort will comprise 10-15 students with the view of them starting their studies in 2022.
This is one of several articulation partnerships the University of Cumbria is developing with other Chinese universities that will see more exchanges of students and staff, sharing of teaching and learning approaches and world-class research collaborations.