One of the great Irish exports to China has been education, and Minister for Education and Skills Jan O'Sullivan was in China last week on a trade mission organised by Enterprise Ireland, to promote the deepening ties between the two countries, especially at third level.
"There are very tangible benefits to this relationship. We have seen an increase in the number of Chinese students studying at graduate and postgraduate level in Ireland, " she said.
“We are also seeing very strong, innovative partnerships evolving between Irish third-level institutions and Chinese universities.”
UCD global centre
During her visit she announced details of initiatives by the major Irish universities to boost their presence in China, opening a number of centres. These included a UCD global centre in Beijing, one of four being set up by UCD in China,
The UCD Beijing global centre is co-located with the Irish Embassy and Enterprise Ireland.
“By setting up global centres, UCD will extend its activities beyond student recruitment. Their purpose is to provide a focal point for education, for alumni and diaspora community, for research and academic collaboration, for trade and intercultural exchange,” Ms O’Sullivan said.
At present there are 6,000 international students, including 600 Chinese students, studying at UCD.
"The success of the Confucius Institute at UCD, which is linked with Renmin University, has already created a real bridge between the two countries," said UCD president Prof Andrew Deeks.
UCD provides joint degree- level and exchange programmes in China with a number of universities including Fudan University in Shanghai and the Peking University Guanghua School of Management.
UCD also has a partnership with Beijing University of Technology – the Beijing Dublin International College, which was opened in 2012 and has 500 students studying for degrees in finance, computing and engineering.
The Minister also officially opened the 3U Partnership’s China office in Beijing, which is located in the city’s award-winning Galaxy Soho urban complex.
The partnership comprises Dublin City University (DCU), Maynooth University and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), and is part of the Government's policy to encourage shared services.
"The 3U China office symbolises the commitment of all three partner institutions to working collaboratively to promote themselves both collectively and individually as quality higher education destinations for Chinese students," said Maynooth University president Prof Philip Nolan.
The 3U China office will play a strategic role in recruiting more Chinese students for all three partner institutions.