Over the course of the 5-day visit the delegation will be expanding and strengthening links by meeting with, and in many instances signing memoranda of understanding and partnership agreements between NUI Galway and 17 Chinese institutions. *
Developing stronger educational links with China is not only a key feature of NUI Galway's international strategy but features prominently in the Irish government's Asia strategy (1999-2009). Some of the benefits of these links are graduate placement, recruitment and co-operation in the field of research and development.
Ms Anna Cunningham, Director of International Affairs at NUI Galway, said, "Attracting high calibre international research Masters and PhD students is a strategic priority for NUI Galway. We are fortunate to have solid links in place already with a range of prestigious Chinese universities. The objective of this visit is to formalise these links and create further opportunities for reciprocal exchange of postgraduate students and collaborative research."
During the visit Professor William Schabas of the Irish Centre for Human Rights will deliver a paper at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) with which NUI Galway will sign a formal agreement. Among the other institutions formalising agreements with NUI Galway will be Hong Kong University of Science & Technology and the Institute of Oceanology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao, who will forge a formal linkage with the Martin Ryan Marine Research Institute, NUI Galway. In addition, the Beijing Alumni Chapter launch will be hosted by Ambassador Declan Kelleher at the Irish Embassy.
Speaking ahead of the visit, President Ó Muircheartaigh said, "This historic visit to China represents a wonderful opportunity for NUI Galway to build upon the strong existing relationships between our university and China. With over 70 alumni in China, Galway is the Irish university with the most China-based graduates.
The visit by this delegation will be a platform for our existing and developing connections with China - so that these can be strengthened and built on, thus paving the way for increased cooperation in educational exchange, in research & development and in greater cultural understanding."
Dr Louis de Paor, Director of the Centre for Irish Studies and Professor Kevin Barry, Dean of the College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies, will visit Nanjing and Fudan Universities with a view to attracting Master and PhD students for a period of study at the Centre. The Centre currently has a student from Nanjing, sponsored by the China Scholarship Council conducting her doctoral research on the work of Roddy Doyle.
Professor Barry says, "In order to establish these exchanges NUI Galway are providing Chinese language classes where 30 students are currently enrolled with two lecturers from Beijing. During the next academic year at NUI Galway, it is planned to offer undergraduate students the option of studying Chinese as part of Arts and Commerce programmes."
In his remarks at the launch of the Alumni Chapter, the President reminded alumni and guests that the links between NUI Galway and Beijing would be further enhanced by the participation of three current students and 1 alumni in next year s Olympics in Beijing who will compete in sprinting (Paul Hession, 110 & 200m) rowing (Alan Martin, Cormac Folan) and the 20km walk (Olive Loughnane).