Universiteit Leiden

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Co-operation with China

A delegation from Leiden University, headed by the Rector Magnificus Professor Paul van der Heijden, is currently in Xiamen, in South-East China, to conclude two agreements on intensive research and teaching collaboration with academic institutions there, and to open the first MEARC representative office in Beijing.


Prof. Liu Haifeng, Institute of Education, en prof.dr. Paul van der Heijden, rector magnificus, Universiteit Leiden.
Professor Liu Haifeng, Institute of Education, and Professor Paul van der Heijden, Rector Magnificus, Leiden University

The first of these agreements relates to co-operation on IT activities between the Software School of the University of Xiamen and the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS). The second agreement aims to strengthen the already existing co-operation between the Institute for the Study of Higher Education in Xiamen and the ICLON in Leiden. The signing ceremony took place on the premises of Check-IT in the software park at Xiamen. This extensive park to the north of the University of Xiamen has taken shape in the past two years.  

Check-IT is a joint venture of Leiden University, the Leiden Hogeschool, Hogeschool Zuyd, the Hague Hogeschool, the Hogeschool Arnhem Nijmegen and the Software School of the University of Xiamen. Xiamen and Leiden have had a collaboration agreement in place since the 1980s. 

International skills

At Check-IT, Chinese and Dutch IT students are able to follow a work experience proramme and carry out graduation projects.  A Dutch lecturer will be available for supervision for a period of three months, and three Chinese lecturers are each available one day a week. Henk Frencken from ICLON, together with Professor Fan Yihong from Xiamen initiator of the project, explains: 'The basic idea is to give Dutch and Chinese students the opportunity to acquire international skills in a hands-on environment.'


Prof Zeng Wenhua, vice dean Software School en directeur van Check-IT, en prof.dr. Joost Kok, directeur van het LIACS.
Prof Zeng Wenhua, vice dean Software School en directeur van Check-IT, en prof.dr. Joost Kok, directeur van het LIACS.

For a period of six months, some 20 to 25 Dutch students from different departments will be working in Xiamen. They are involved in IT projects for the business sector across different fields, from systems and games development to application systems.  'It's all  highly professional, with firm milestones and progress meetings with the clients,' according to Frencken.

Dutch students are not the only ones to stand in line for trips to Xiamen; Chinese students are also keen to take part. Participation in Check-IT counts as international experience and looks good on your cv, as Frencken points out. The fourth group of Dutch students are currently working in Japan. Many of them return to the country once their work experience has come to an end.

Unique experience

Serhan Uyghur is  now in the second month of his work placement at Check-IT, and he is already convinced it has been a unique experience. 'I learn from the Chinese students and they from me. They are true technical wizards, while I'm more the creative type. But, together it's a good match, although it takes you a little while to really understand one another well. We're getting to know one another better, and that helps the communication.'  

Valuable gift

After signing the agreements, Van der Heijden spoke of how impressed he was. 'Check-IT shows what you can achieve in a very short time and it's mainly due to the efforts of the excellent lecturers, students and staff.' The Chinese members of the delegation were particularly pleased with such a valuable gift for Xiamen University's 90-year celebrations. The celebrations are taking place this week, and will be attended by the Leiden delegation, including Professor Joost Kok, Professor Peter Ho, Professor of Chinese Economy and Development and Marieke te Booij, Associate Director International Relations.

The Leiden delegation will also be visiting Shandong University in Jinan and Minzu University in Peking, with a view to strengthening the relations with these institutions in the fields of research and teaching.  

Modern East Asia Research Centre

The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Minzu University of China in Beijing and Leiden University on 4 April 2011 also marks the establishment of the MEARC representative office in China. The two institutions will co-operate closely in such areas as the reciprocal exchange of students and of research and teaching staff, and will engage in research collaboration in fields of mutual interest. The opening of the MEARC office is the first step in this collaboration. The Director of the office is Professor C.S. Goto-Jones.


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