Last Friday, UCL IOE Confucius Institute hosted the second annual School and Universities Day. At the event, we welcomed 120 GCSE and A-Level students from schools around England and 19 universities from around the UK. The day is designed to open a discourse between schools and universities about studying Chinese in higher education.
In the morning sessions, the IOE CI’s James Trapp introduced the students to Tang Dynasty poetry. Students worked together in groups to translate the poetry and come up with their own versions in English. While the students were busy trying their hand at Chinese poetry, teachers and universities representatives were welcomed by Prof. Jane Duckett, President of the British Association for Chinese Studies. A focus group session followed where various issues were discussed, including developing school and university partnerships, content of secondary versus tertiary courses and helping students transition into university studies.
Before lunch, a panel discussion was chaired by IOE CI Director Katharine Carruthers, called ‘Choosing Chinese – university and beyond’. Made up of four panellists who studied Mandarin Chinese at university and went on to have a career using their Chinese, the panel featured ‘H-J’ Colston of the Chopsticks Club, Tom Miller of Gavekal Research, Hannah Rea of China-Britain Business Council and Eve Baker of Beiwei55. Students very much enjoyed the panel discussion and it really opened their eyes to where studying Chinese at university can take you.
The day finished with a large university fair, which gave school students the opportunity to talk directly with university representatives about the various ways to study Chinese at university. School students found the fair “open and friendly” and gained a greater understanding of the options available to them when choosing their higher education. Universities found that the fair was extremely useful for “networking between schools and universities” and explaining the “structure, type and content” of individual courses.
The day was a great success and we look forward to developing this annual event by including more universities, teachers and school students each year.