LogoOn 18 April, China and the European Commission launched in Brussels a High-level People-to-People Dialogue (HPPD) covering education, culture, youth, research and multilingualism, which complements the existing cooperation ‘pillars’. As part of the official launch event in Brussels, EUA, in collaboration with the Madariaga Foundation, organised a discussion panel on “The 21st Century Student: Learning in a Globalised World”, chaired by EUA’s Secretary General, Lesley Wilson.
The discussion panel met with strong interest and also proved a need for further opportunities for exchanges. About 20 Chinese university leaders, all of them representing well-known institutions, participated and upon EUA’s invitation, many of its members also joined the discussion. Discussion among the panel participants addressed a broad range of issues, such as employability, mobility and languages.
Participants agreed on the need to establish better balanced and more structured opportunities for exchanges, such as summer schools and joint study programmes. One of the conclusions was that China is more knowledgeable about Europe than Europe is about China, and that more Europeans should have the opportunity to study and teach in China. While the Chinese presidents – representing leading universities such as Nankai, Tianjin, Tongji – stated that their graduates enjoy excellent employment opportunities, there was clearly a common interest in exploring new developments in learning and teaching beyond the social role of university in society and the relationship with the world of work and labour markets.
For this occasion, parallel panels also took place on Youth and Culture. In a final plenary session, the Chinese Councillor Liu Yandong stressed the need to get closer to each other’s living cultures – referring to the fact that Tintin and the Smurfs are not unknown to China any longer.
Together with Androulla Vasilliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Youth and Sport, the Chinese Councillor outlined briefly priorities and actions for the next years. These include expanding opportunities for mobility in education and increasing the number of exchanges between students and scholars, particularly in higher education. The two sides will also work together to improve the mutual recognition of academic qualifications. To promote language learning, China and the EU will jointly organise a major conference on multilingualism at the end of the year.
More information on the launch of the "People-to-People" Dialogue and the joint declaration are available on the European Commission website.
While the HPPD is not limited to culture, youth and education, it can principally address all sectors of joint policy making, where people-to-people exchanges would make sense. EUA is looking forward to further developments in the area of higher education and research exchanges.