October 2005      
Quebec Delegation Trip to China

From September 21st to 30th I was privileged to be a member of Premier Charestís official delegation to China. 125 delegates representing higher education and business took part in this trip co-coordinated through the Ministries of International Relations and Economic Development, Innovation and Export.

Apart from having to return to Vancouver three hours into our flight to Beijing due to the pilotís sudden attack of kidney stones, the missionís organization was flawless and very impressive.

During the visit 27 individual meetings were organized with various universities in three cities, (Beijing, Shanghai and Jinan). A sampling of the universities include Beijing International Studies University, Beijing Normal University and The University of International Business and Economics.

The Chinese representatives were warm, welcoming and very eager to develop relationships with Canadian universities. Some of them had already targeted Bishopís as an interesting future partner and were eager to learn more about Bishopís and our approach to higher education. The Chinese universities are eager to have Canadian partners who will not only accept their students, but will also send students to study in China.

The Chinese have set a very ambitious goal; their aim is to be home to the 100 top universities in the world before the end of the 21st century. To that effect, they have started evaluating their institutions (the Shanghai index, see The Economist) and have embarked on differential investment initiatives. The universities are extremely serious about evaluating their institutions as well as the comparative strengths and weaknesses of European and North American institutions.

Any future collaboration with China will involve in-depth bilateral evaluations of potential partners. Chinese authorities are concerned with quality, not student enrolment. International relationships and the strength/depth of student involvement in their academic pursuits are considered important indicators of institutional quality. It was refreshing to visit a country making such a commitment to financing higher education as a means of strengthening themselves. There are certainly opportunities to work with China and its universities Ė we will continue to study and evaluate them in the future with the campus community.

Robert Poupart
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