Coventry University has announced the launch of its new Confucius Institute – the first of its kind in the West Midlands – at a London conference attended by China’s President Xi Jinping as part of his state visit.
The University will collaborate with Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics (JUFE) in Nanchang, south-east China, to set up the institute, which will be dedicated to supporting international trade for regional businesses and helping the local community to learn about Chinese language and culture.
The joint initiative with JUFE will see the new Confucius Institute launched in early 2016 on Coventry’s campus, following the endorsement of China’s National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (also known as Hanban).
Coventry University mades the announcement today at the annual UK Confucius Institute and Confucius Classrooms Conference at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which was attended by President Jinping and the Duke of York.
The institute will be open to students, local school pupils and businesses, with a particular focus on helping West Midlands SMEs boost trade and export links with China through improved awareness and understanding of the country’s business culture.
Coventry’s institute will become the region’s only Confucius centre and one of 26 in the UK, and aims to offer a range of learning opportunities at all levels – from children’s courses to teacher training – each with a view to improving links between China and the West Midlands.
Dr David Pilsbury, deputy vice-chancellor for international development at Coventry University, said:
Coventry University has a long association with China and deeper engagement is a key part of our international strategy through building better academic, social and cultural links. It is with great pleasure, therefore, that we are able to launch our Confucius Institute in collaboration with colleagues at JUFE, and that we can coincide the announcement with a rare state visit to Britain by the Chinese premier – a visit which signals the reinforcement of ties between the two countries.
Our Confucius Institute is as much for the public and our regional business community as it is for our students and staff. It will offer a unique opportunity for people to learn about Chinese culture and language, and for SMEs to explore how they can engage with this most important of markets to improve trade links. We anticipate that the institute will become one of the West Midlands region’s chief business and cultural connections to China in the years to come.
School-based ‘Confucius Classrooms’ also operate around the world to teach Mandarin Chinese to children, including – amongst others – one at Finham Park School in Coventry and another at Robin Hood Academy in Birmingham.