On 27th November, 2014, Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit, was invited to attend 2 lectures at Oxford University.
This lecture featuring speeches by the presidents of two leading universities in China, Prof. Peng Long, President of Beijing Foreign Studies University and Prof. Zhang Jie, President of Shanghai Jiaotong University.
(A photo of St Anne College, Oxford University)
The event took place at St Anne’s College, Oxford University. Being one of Oxford’s largest colleges, with some 420 undergraduates and 250 graduates, St Anne’s College aims to “prepare the students for the globally connected society of the future“. Maybe, there could not be a better place in Oxford to host those two distinguished Presidents of Chinese leading Universities.
There are about 100 Chinese students and staff who are studying/working at Oxford who attended the lectures. Besides leading Chinese media organisations based in the UK, QS is only external organisations invited to this interesting event.
Founded in 1941, the Beijing Foreign Studies University is the first foreign language university and offering the most language programs in the China. It is a small and specialised university, with only 7,000 registered students(5,000 are full-time undergraduates, 1,000 graduate students, and 1,000 overseas students). However, being the top Chinese universities specialised in foreign language cultivation(teaching 58 languages). By 2020, BFSU plans to teach 70 languages, with the ultimate goal of 90. With 80,000 alumni, more than 400 graduates become ambassadors, 1000 graduates become counsellors and therefore BFSU is dubbed the “diplomat’s cradle” of China.
The event started with President Peng Long talking on “The Chinese Economic Transformation- Characteristics of the Third Waves of Chinese Economic Reform”. President Peng is a known expert in China on International Finance and Stock Investment. He is also the Vice Chairman of China Association of International Trade, which is the professional body for experts in China on international trade.
(President Peng Long, Beijing Foreign Studies University spoke on “The Chinese Economic Transformation- Characteristics of the Third Waves of Chinese Economic Reform” at Oxford University)
He was very charismatic, he started his speech with a joke, “although I was responsible for one of the most prestigious Chinese universities on foreign language studies, I myself is not good at speaking English. I was too nervous last night to fall asleep because I was so busy practising my speech in English. I was much more relieved that I was told earlier that I could speak Chinese”, everyone in the lecture broke into laughters. President Peng, gave a very brave and frank speech to the audience, on his understanding of all the major economic reforms since the foundation of the PRC, especially the opening-up of the 1978, as well as the latest proposal of the Central Chinese Government to upgrade its industrial structure to be more innovation and knowledge driven. The audience was very impressed by his speech, some of the current Oxford students even start to ask questions to the President about how to become a staff of the university when they finished their studies at Oxford!
Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director enjoyed an interesting conservation with Prof. Peng Long, BFSU President on the international strategy. President Peng was surprised to find that Dr. Christina Yan Zhang was from Nanjing-a city where he had been working for a long time during his academic career. He extended an invitation to Dr. Christina Yan Zhang and asked her to visit him and other senior leaders of Beijing Foreign Studies University when she was in Beijing again. Dr. Christina Yan Zhang accepted the invite and wish President Peng every success in his role leading the university to an unprecedented new height.
The second speaker of the day is Prof. Zhang Jie, the President of Shanghai Jiaotong University, a top 5 Chinese university(based on QS World University Ranking )who gave a speech on “University Governance: the people-oriented incentives system ”. Dr. Christina Yan Zhang also enjoyed a great conversation with Prof. Zhang Jie, who kindly agreed to meet her and Ben Sowter, Head of QS Intelligence Unit the following day in London despite packed timetable flying back home in China.
(Dr. Christina Yan Zhang, China Director, QS Intelligence Unit, as an invited VIP guest that night, was introduced to Prof. Zhang Jie, President, Shanghai Jiaotong University, one of the top Chinese mainland universities.)