University of Exeter Law and Politics students outside the China University of Political Science and Law during the Chinese Summer School 2009.

Chinese Summer School for Law and Politics students

Law and Politics departments at leading universities in China and in the UK are forging stronger connections through a Summer School designed to enhance research links and add value to students’ educational and post-graduate experience.

The China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL), which is regarded as the top ranked university for Law in China and is based in Beijing, has recently hosted a group of Law and Social Science students from the University of Exeter in a new cultural exchange and research programme designed to increase levels of engagement and collaboration between the institutions. The Summer School forms part of a UK government initiative, under the Prime Minister’s Initiative which helps to encourage international mobility of UK students through competitive grants. The International Office at the University of Exeter was successful in the face of keen competition to win one of the prestigious government initiative awards, enabling partial funding for 10 of the 20 students who went to Beijing.

Dr John Withrington, the University of Exeter’s Dean of International Development said, “This has been a fantastic opportunity for twenty Exeter students of Law and Politics to experience at first hand study at one of China’s top universities, and to live for a month in Beijing. This is the first time that the University has organised a summer school of this type, and our partner institution, the China University of Political Science and Law, worked hard to make our students and staff feel welcome, as well as providing a series of stimulating lectures and cultural visits.”

He added, “We intend hosting a Summer School at Exeter in 2010 for our key partners overseas, and I see these partnership activities as underpinning the University’s commitment to internationalisation, and our drive to becoming one of the world’s leading universities.”

The month long Summer School ran from 5 July to 3 August involving daily lectures which included comparisons between Chinese and UK law, the Chinese political, legal and administrative systems, Chinese policy affecting the European Union, Human Rights Law, Chinese Economy and Trade. There were also cultural excursions, visits to Non-Governmental Organisations and talks from law companies. Cultural evenings and a weekend trip to Xian were informative and added greatly towards the cultural experience of the British students and their hosts.

Professor Xu Lan, Director of the International Office at the China University of Political Science and Law, said “CUPL very much enjoyed hosting students from Exeter, who were engaged and interested in every aspect of learning and experiencing the culture. China is now a major global player and it is important that students who will become the future understand the complexities of the Chinese culture.”

Prior to the Summer School the University's Foreign Language Centre provided Mandarin language training for the outgoing students, who got to know their hosts through sharing photos and interacting on Facebook. The CUPL augmented a ‘buddy system’ designed to assist in cultural understanding and friendships between the UK students and Chinese students and academics. 

Dr Chris Longman of the University of Exeter, who accompanied the students, said “The trip was an invaluable learning experience, not just in terms of the formal lectures, but also because of the opportunity to stay in Beijing for an extended period and mix with Chinese people. The Exeter students were extremely proactive in immersing themselves in local life and in making friends and the CUPL buddies were incredibly welcoming and willing to discuss their lives in Beijing.”

Dr Longman added, “Our hotel accommodation was superb and situated in a fascinating district of Beijing, away from the tourist areas, which gave us a good insight into the daily routines of ordinary Beijing residents.”

This new initiative has sought to build on the strengths of each university in developing closer research links and opportunities for students to learn more about their subjects from a culturally different perspective.

Date: 10 August 2009