The 2017 U.K. and Ireland Confucius Institutes Conference was successfully held in UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland on September 23rd. Along with the 100 representatives from over 30 U.K. and Irish Confucius Institutes were Chinese Ambassador H.E. Dr. Yue Xiaoyong, Deputy Director-General of Hanban and Deputy Chief Executive of Confucius Institute Headquarters P.R. China Mr. Guocheng Zhao, Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. and UCD President Prof Andrew Deeks, who attended the opening ceremony and delivered keynote speeches.
Prof Andrew Deeks, UCD President
In his speech at the opening ceremony, Prof. Andrew Deeks said that the UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland (CII) has been dedicated to collaborating with Irish and Chinese governments, enterprises and academic organisations to develop and enhance the bilateral relations between the two countries since its inception 11 years ago, launched by the then Chinese Vice Premiere Zeng Peiyan; since then, UCD CII has achieved outstanding success with regards to teaching scales, quality and influence. He emphasised that the new UCD CII Building represents their prosperous development of Chinese teaching in Ireland.
Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D.
Minister O’Connor reflected on Ireland’s mature and sophisticated relationship with China in the area of education, which encompasses student and academic mobility, higher education collaboration, language learning, cultural awareness-raising and research. She then praised the resources the two Confucius Institutes in UCD and UCC provide for Irish students to experience Chinese language and culture and the audience an update on Chinese language and culture teaching in the Irish school system. Minister O’Connor confirmed the Irish government’s willingness and desire to work together with China over the coming years to ensure the successful development of the Confucius Institutes in Ireland. She said it was envisaged that Chinese would be introduced as a Leaving Certificate subject in 2020.
Chinese Ambassador H.E. Dr. Yue Xiaoyong
In his keynote speech, Chinese Ambassador H.E. Dr. Yue Xiaoyong acknowledged the achievement of both Confucius Institutes in Ireland in promoting collaborations between Irish higher education institutions and their Chinese partners, their role as an important platform for language and culture exchange between Ireland and China, as well as their contributions in building a bridge linking the two countries. He expressed his gratitude to those promoting and supporting Chinese teaching and the development of the two Confucius Institutes, including the Ministry of Education and Skills, UCC and UCD, and their Chinese partner universities Renmin University and Shanghai University. He concluded his speech by extending his special thanks to President Andrew Deeks for his great support for the New Confucius Institute Building.
Deputy Director-General of Hanban and Deputy Chief Executive of Confucius Institute Headquarters P.R. China Mr. Guocheng Zhao
In his speech, Deputy Director-General of Hanban and Deputy Chief Executive of Confucius Institute Headquarters P.R. China Mr Guocheng Zhao first recognised UCD CII’s outstanding achievement since their establishment, followed by an introduction of the development and features of the U.K. and Irish Confucius Institutes from the perspective of the Confucius Institute Headquarters. These include: 1. Increasing teaching scales, enhanced radius and influence; 2. Improved teaching qualy and levels with successful teaching staff training and resources development; 3. Growing number of top-class cultural and academic events with a stronger role as a general communication platform; 4. Localised development with a higher ability to serve the communities and Chinese-foreign collaborations. At the end of his speech Mr Zhao raised the theme of the Conference for discussion. He encouraged all delegates to make full use of the opportunity for further exchanges and discussions on future plans for Confucius Institutes.
The Conference was divided into panels, with four running concurrently in the morning and another four in the afternoon. Topics included developing Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classes, implementing projects, sharing resources, Chinese proficiency tests, teacher visas and collaboration with local companies.