AIT Open Second China Office in Wuhan
Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin, President of AIT opened the second AIT China Office in Wuhan on 26 March 2017 with the support of AIT’s Chinese partner, Foundation College of China for Scholarly Cooperation (FCCSC). Wuhan is the capital of Hubei Province and is the ninth largest city in China with a population close to 10.61 million .
Professor Ó Catháin first visited Wuhan in January 2014 and noted the growing trade and educational links between Co. Westmeath, where AIT is the only higher education institute and Hubei Province. Governor Wang Guosheng visited Ireland in November 2014 when an agreement of cooperation was signed between Westmeath County Council and Hubei Province. The agreement lays the foundations for economic, social, cultural and educational links. Governor Wang and his delegation held discussions with the Irish Minister for Education in Dublin during this visit. Delegations from the Department of Education and Skills visited Wuhan in October 2014, 2015 and 2016. Delegates from the Education Bureau and economic zones in Hubei provinces have visited Co. Westmeath and AIT hosted numerous education delegation.
Professor Ó Catháin commented, “the opening of the AIT office in Wuhan will strengthen our existing relationships with partner universities in Wuhan and will assist in developing new relationships over the coming months in Hubei Province”.
AIT has established a joint programme in Design and Multimedia with Jianghan University, Wuhan. There are 200 students studying this Desisgn programme which is approved by the Ministry of Education. A number of visits between Athlone and Wuhan have taken place since the launch of the programme. The Deputy Secretary General of the Department of Education and Skills in Ireland, Ms. Mary Doyle and staff from the Department’s International section have attended the launch of the programme at Jianghan University and met the 2015 and 2016 intake of students. This relationship has seen an active mobility between AIT and Jianghan University each year since 2014. The Dean of the Faculty of Science and a Design lecturer from AIT have visited the Design students at Jianghan University. More than 20 students participated in a Summer programme in Graphic Design at AIT in August 2016 and it is planned to send another group in 2017.
AIT is keen to extend cooperation with Jianghan University and other universities in other areas to grow the economy of Hubei Province such as ICT, Mechanical Engineering, Design, Biotechnology, Business and Accounting. The design of programmes with emphasis on practical learning will ensure that students will be industry ready to meet the needs of industry in Hubei Province.
AIT has strong industrial partnerships since its establishment in Co. Westmeath in 1970. AIT senior management will advise our partner universities on the importance of introducing strong industry partners to academic panels and boards when establishing these international programmes.
During this visit to Wuhan, Professor Ó Catháin will also visit Wuhan University of Science and Technology where discussions will focus on collaboration for postgraduate and research programmes.
Internationalisation is a key pillar of the current AIT Strategic Plan and AIT is committed to strengthening links in Hubei Province with the opening of this office. Since the launch of the Irish government’s Asia Strategy in 2000, AIT has been a key player in developing academic links in China. AIT has more than 30 agreements with partner colleges in China since 2000. Some agreements, such as those signed with Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, Dalian and Southeast University, Nanjing, were signed during the visit of former President Mary McAleese to China in 2003 and are still active today.
International students comprise 11% of the student population at AIT and more than 150 Chinese students call AIT home. The majority of Chinese students transfer to AIT from partner universities. AIT is the only higher education institute in Ireland with six undergraduate programmes approved by the Ministry of Education in China.
AIT is motivated to extend agreements with Chinese partner universities to cooperation on research programmes. AIT has more than 20 Chinese students completing Masters and PhD progammes in Computer, Software and Polymer Engineering. Researchers at AIT are exploring research opportunities with Chinese universities. The presence of an office in Wuhan will assist in developing research collaborations in Hubei Province with the launch of the Science Foundation Ireland Partnership programme (China/Ireland). This fund is supported by SFI Ireland and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC). In the past, the China–Ireland Research consortium has built a cohesive infrastructure for the development of strategic links between Irish Research Institutions and Chinese academia and industry. The Software Research Institute, Materials Research Institute and Bioscience Research Institute at AIT are particularly interested in developing links to attract high caliber researchers and perhaps some of our partner universities in Hubei Province will avail of postgraduate opportunities to complete Masters and PhD programmes at AIT in the future.
AIT is committed to strengthening relationships with existing partner universities in China and to developing new ones, particularly in Hubei Province. Guanxi is the Chinese way of building relationships when doing business in China. AIT is practicing the spirit of guanxi with the opening of its second office in Wuhan.