China Daily reports on ECNU's decades of exchange


As ECNU celebrates its 70th birthday, China Daily, on October 11th featured ECNU under the theme 'Decades of Exchange' (Life, p.17). The decades of achievement were described by Shanghai reporter Zhou Wenting. 

This report spans the establishment of ECNU, its first international students, academic exchanges and global partnerships, an exhibition on early presidents’ approach to education, and the host of courses for overseas Mandarin teachers.

East China Normal University is ranked among China's top 10 higher education institutions with the most overseas students due to its dedication to fostering international exchange and collaborations, Zhou Wenting reports in Shanghai.

Around 3,000 Chinese students enrolled in 10 United States universities, which East China Normal University has partnerships with, have chosen to participate in the partner programs offered by ECNU in Shanghai over the past academic year when they were unable to travel abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The US schools include University of Connecticut, Syracuse University, Rutgers University and Tulane University.

For ECNU, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, the act of receiving students from schools overseas dates back to 1965. A total of 210 students from Vietnam arrived at the school to study Chinese that year.

The university welcomes its first batch of international students in 1965.

Over the past decades, the number of international students pursue studies at the university has grown to around 6,000. The school said it is among the country's top 10 higher education institutions in terms of receiving overseas students.

Winning the trust of these US schools to have their students study at ECNU shows that the university's progress in internationalization and academic excellence over the years has been recognized, said Zhang Lu, assistant to the director of the Global Education Center of ECNU.

Our school has been active in fostering international exchanges, especially with educational institutions in North America and Europe, and has accumulated credibility among our Western peers.

Before the pandemic, South Korea, the US, France, Italy and Russia were the top five sources of international students for ECNU, according to the school, which has distinguished alumni that includes Cui Tiankai, the former Chinese ambassador to the US from 2013 to 2021.

The school's advantage in international communication originated from its strength in teaching Chinese as a foreign language to foreigners. It was one of the four earliest universities in the country to establish such a discipline in the 1980s.

The world started to become increasingly curious about China when the country accelerated its development. The first step was to learn our language, said Tang Tao, curator of the ECNU archives.

The course China stories is one of the highlights in the curriculum for international students at the school. Professors from departments such as environmental science, geography, sociology and history are invited to give classes to help foreign students understand China from different perspectives.

Students also get to go on field trips to learn more about Chinese society. Some have gone to mountainous, rural regions to work as volunteer teachers in primary schools. Some have even boarded the Chinese icebreaker Xuelong to learn about the country's results in polar expedition research.

International students have also visited Shanghai's garbage disposal plant to witness the municipality's efforts in environmental protection. They also visited local neighborhoods to learn about the refined neighborhood management in the metropolis of nearly 25 million permanent residents, said Zhang.

The gradual progress of the school across all disciplines has boosted its collaborations with overseas universities. The school has signed more than 300 partnerships related to scientific and technological development, service and research with institutions around the world.

The partnerships include that with Ecoles Normales Supérieures in France. The two institutions, which have been collaborating for the past 19 years, have established the Program of Sino-French Education for Research (PRoSFER), the Sino-French Joint Graduate School and the Joint Research Institute for Science and Society to explore ways of cultivating doctoral students. ECNU has also made continuous innovations in student selection, talent cultivation, scientific research training and program management.

Since 2002, the PRoSFER program has recruited 578 master students and 172 PhD students. More than 300 papers by PhD students have been published in world-class journals.

Wu E (first from left), a doctoral student at the Sino-French Joint Graduate School, 

poses for a photo in a lab in France in 2007 after her research paper was published by Science

Graduates from these programs have enjoyed good career prospects. They have been employed by either ECNU or other domestic universities and scientific research institutions, obtained job offers from multinational companies, or have gone on to further their studies abroad.

Jean-François Pinton, president of Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, said ENS Lyon's partnership with ECNU is set to grow in the coming years since our institutions actually share similar initiatives in the strategic plans.

In 2015, the Asia Europe Business School was founded jointly by ECNU and the Emlyon Business School with the goal of cultivating entrepreneurs and cross-industry talents for the Belt and Road Initiative.

The business school has taken the lead in establishing a master's degree for high-end brand management and its featured discipline brand strategy and enterprise growth has grown in reputation and influence at home and abroad. AEBS currently has 268 full-time students, with international students accounting for nearly half of them.

Another major milestone in ECNU's history is its co-founding of NYU Shanghai with New York University in 2012. NYU Shanghai is the first Sino-US research university in China and the third degree-granting campus of NYU.

Students enter the NYU-ECNU Joint Research Institute at NYU Shanghai.

During a visit to NYU Shanghai on Sept 16, Li Qiang, Party secretary of Shanghai, said that the municipality's quest to become an international metropolis with world influence is gathering pace.

I hope that NYU Shanghai will better play up its advantage of operating in an open manner and its role of connecting China and the US and beyond, said Li.

I look forward to seeing the school introduce more international resources, gather talent, bear innovation fruits, and provide intelligence support for Shanghai's growth.

Zhu Huili, assistant director of the research center at the NYU Shanghai Scientific Research Office, said that the joint-venture university has facilitated the formation of joint research centers dedicated to areas like mathematical sciences, brain and cognitive science, physics, computational chemistry and social development.

Over 1,000 original scientific research papers from these centers were published in leading journals over the past five years, said Zhu. In addition, more than 40 percent of the current population of professors are international scholars.

The joint research institutes have grown into magnets to gather the world's top scholars. For example, Nobel laureate in economics Thomas Sargent joined the research institute of mathematical sciences in September, she said.

Read more:

Decades of exchange:

Exhibition on early presidents shows approach to education:

Institute holds range of courses for overseas Mandarin teachers:

Source: China Daily


East China Normal University