Leiden builds stronger bonds with China and South Korea

Leiden builds stronger bonds with China and South Korea

‘China has become an academic powerhouse, which is good reason for Leiden University to expand our partnerships with universities there.' A delegation headed by Rector Magnificus Carel Stolker visited China and South Korea, to renew and extend existing partnerships.

The Leiden delegation visited two universities in China: Tsinghua University and Xi’an Jiaotong University. New partnership agreements were signed with these two institutions, including a joint Summer School and a joint PhD programme, as well as arrangements for exchanges of professors and researchers. In South Korea visits were made to Sungkyunkwan University and Yonsei University to broaden the possibilities for collaboration with these institutions. Meetings with prospective students and Leiden alumni were also on the agenda in both countries.

Intensive collaboration with Tsinghua University

Tsinghua University in Beijing is among the top 50 universities worldwide and has been a strategic partner for Leiden University since the signing of a comprehensive collaboration agreement in 2016. Rector Carel Stolker spoke with Vice-President Yigong Shi at Tsinghua and they signed a number of new collaboration agreements. The Leiden Law School and Tsinghua Law School will be developing a joint Summer School on The Frontiers of Children’s Rights in China. The Leiden Observatory is also entering into an agreement with the Astrophysics department of the Chinese university, and both institutions will be making grants available for students wanting to attend Summer Courses at the partner university.

Exchange of students and researchers

Professor Yigong Shi from Tsinghua is pleased with the various agreements that were made: ‘Leiden University has a reputation for the high quality of its research and is an important partner for Tsinghua University. Signing these agreements will further strengthen our collaboration in a number of important areas and will make exchanges between our students and researchers easier.’ Stolker is in full agreement: ‘I am very enthusiastic and I believe it is important that both partners benefit from the agreements.’

The Leiden delegation and the Chinese representatives from Tsinghua University, at the campus in Beijing.

Xi’an Jiaotong University

Leiden’s Faculty of Science has further strengthened its ties with Xi’an Jiaotong University (XJTU) in Xi’an. During his visit there, Dean Geert de Snoo signed a series of new agreements. De Snoo was accompanied by Professor Fons Verbeek from LIACS and Professor Hubertus Irth from LACDR. XJTU and the Faculty of Science will be setting up a joint PhD track and there will be regular exchanges of professors and researchers between the two institutions. The first of these exchanges is due to take place shortly, with Marcello Bonsangue (LIACS) and Gerard van Westen (LACDR) exchanging places with Xiaohong Guan and Kai Ye respectively from Xi’an.

Discussions with prospective students

A special event was organised at XJTU for Chinese students who want to study for a master’s or a PhD in Leiden. Around 200 students talked via Skype with Chinese students who are already studying or working for their PhD in Leiden.

Alumni meeting

Another high spot of the visit was the alumni event at the Dutch Embassy in Beijing, attended by around fifty alumni, both Chinese and Dutch. They were addressed by the head of the Economic Mission, Elske Smith. The Rector talked about the new inititives for international alumni of Leiden University, such as the Mentor Network, and about developments at our Campus in The Hague. Professor Frank Pieke talked about the results of the research he conducted in 2016 on the experiences of Chinese students with living and studying in the Netherlands (see also the book by Garrie van Pinxteren and Frank Pieke: Nederland door Chinese ogen - Van groepstoerist tot internetjournalist, Published by Balans 2017).

CWTS

In a parallel program Paul Wouters (director CWTS) gave a well-attended seminar organized by the Netherlands Embassy in Beijing about global university rankings, the development of academic research in China, and research evaluation. The seminar included a panel discussion with Mrs Kang Xiaoling (Elsevier) and Prof. Liying Yang (National Science Library of Chinese Academy of Sciences).

The alumni meeting at the Dutch Embassy in Beijing

South Korea

The previous week Carel Stolker had visited South Korea, at the invitation of the Korea Foundation, an organisation that stimulates economic, academic and cultural cooperation between South Korea and the rest of the world. Together with other representatives of academic institutions from all parts of the globe, he was informed about education in South Korea and the opportunities for collaboration, and about the state of affairs with North Korea.

Interviews with national newspapers

The visit of the Dutch delegation attracted the attention of two national South Korean newspapers, JoongAng Ilbo and Maeil Business Newspaper. This resulted in two interviews that covered such topics as Leiden University’s vision on education and research in South Korea. The articles also discussed career prospects for South Korean students who have studied in the Netherland and vice versa.

Sungkyunkwan University

After a brief visit to National Seoul University, Carel Stolker paid a more extensive visit to Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU), with which Leiden University cooperates closely in the area of Asia Studies. At a meeting attended by a broad delegation of deans headed by Chairman Chung Kyu Sang, possibilities were discussed for broadening the existing collaboration arrangements.

Yonsei University

A visit to Yonsei University was also on the programme for the Rector and Remco Breuker, Professor of Korea Studies. Yonsei, one of the top universities in Korea, is currently an important exchange partner for Leiden students of Korea Studies. They receive high-level language training, follow courses on South Korea and work on their graduation thesis. Leiden University and Chairman of Yonsei, Professor Yong-Hak Kim, are exploring new opportunities for exchanges for Leiden and Korean students from other programmes.

Alumni event

An event was organised in Seoul for alumni and other contacts. The meeting at the residence of Dutch ambassador (and Leiden Law alumnus) Lody Embrechts offered the opportunity to further strengthen the ties with the embassy. The event was attended by many young Korean students who are considering a master’s or a PhD in Leiden. Leiden University is the only Dutch university to offer a Korean programme.

Rector Carel Stolker in discussion with two alumni in South Korea.