In China, universities want to expand hybrid studies

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EDUCATION FUTURE

THE UNIVERSITY of Edinburgh is considering expanding a “radical” new hybrid model that will allow select groups of Chinese students to study the curriculum at home in China through the collaboration of the university with Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) and Low Carbon College (LCC) in Lingang, Shanghai, China-UK.

The University of Edinburgh (UofE) recently launched a pilot project to enable up to 60 China-based postgraduate students from selected courses in two departments to study together in one of the university’s educational partnership institutions in China in an attempt to create more flexibility and provide a more positive experience for Chinese students currently facing Covid-19 constraints.

Discussions are ongoing to retain this groundbreaking model for the second semester, initially intended for only the first semester of students, and to double or triple the number of students providing this opportunity.

“Ed Craig, dean of Low Carbon College in Lingang, Shanghai, comments, “The hybrid model is designed such that students go to another school, another equally important academic institution, join an academic community, so that they have the ability to physically and not only electronically engage with each other.

“We are trying to be imaginative and welcoming. What we have created in China is unique; no one else does anything like that. It operates in various schools across different divisions and provides students in China who could not fly with a value-added experience on very short notice.

Students in China are currently free of constraints related to Covid-19 and can therefore participate as a cohort together in online lectures. This cohort can obtain academic support from both SJTU Chinese staff and UofE staff who are at the time in China.

“In addition, they receive a range of business and social activities,” Craig says. “For example, a Chinese ceilidh has been organized, there’s an inter-university basketball competition between UofE students and SJTU, and visits have been arranged to major factories and plants, Tesla is on site, for example in Shanghai Lingang.”

Not only has this pilot program opened up a debate about the viability of continuing this model in terms of international students for the future of education, but as Craig points out, “There is a wider issue here: it is environmentally unsustainable to have millions of students flying for their education around the world.”

“We need to develop other models where world-class education providers can deliver their knowledge in a way that’s more sustainable, and strategic partners like Shanghai JiaoTong University are key to enabling that strategy.”

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