The UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland was awarded the accolade of Confucius Institute of the Year, 2008, at the ceremony in the Great Hall of the People, Beijing during the third Confucius Institute Conference held in December 2008.
Only 20 institutes received such honours among over 300 Confucius Institutes and Classrooms across the world. This is the second time in a row for UCD Confucius Institute to receive the accolade of Excellence from the Office of Chinese Language Council International (known as ‘Hanban’ for short).
The UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland since 2006
UCD Confucius Institute was launched by the Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan on 26th September 2006. It is the first Confucius Institute in Ireland dedicated to the promotion and development of Chinese language, culture, studies and business. Since the establishment of the Confucius Institute, it has been, in close association with the Irish Institute for Chinese Studies at UCD, offering innovative and flexible modules and courses in Chinese language, culture, martial arts etc. to not only students at UCD (e.g. BComm with Chinese Studies) but also the wider community including local secondary schools and the general public in Ireland.
Up till now, over 1,400 people have registered and learnt various modules and courses offered by the Institute over the past two years. With active support from the UCD Confucius Institute, in particular, 5 local secondary schools (Loreto Bray, Holy Child, St. Michael’s College, Belvedere College and New Park Comprehensive School) have started to teach Chinese as a foreign language for the first time, three of them have been running the course for the second year now with teaching staff provided by the Institute.
Ongoing research work in Ireland
In order to assess the current situation in Irish secondary education with regard to the teaching of Mandarin Chinese language, the Institute has carried out a research project which includes a survey of all post-primary schools in the country, as well as interviews with school principals and other key informants from government and non-governmental organisations. The project has been completed and the report of this research entitled “Mandarin Chinese in Irish Post-primary Schools” will be launched in February 2009.
The Institute has also carried out a further "National Survey of Firms and Companies in Ireland on the Need for Support and Expertise in Chinese Business and Training in Chinese Language & Culture" in order to better inform the design of appropriate teaching and research programmes to meet Irish companies’ needs. Initial results from the national survey suggest that over 60% of Irish companies think intensive short-term courses (3 days, 5 days, 10 days, etc.) are a good way for their employees to acquire beneficial training/skills for doing business in/with China. Accordingly, a range of continuing professional development courses will be developed to serve this increasing demand.
A goal beyond teaching & research
The Institute has extended its activities beyond teaching and research, to organising other academic and outreach activities. In August 2007, it organised its Inaugural International Conference entitled “Rising China in the Age of Globalisation”. The conference was attended by 130 high level delegates from 13 countries. A diverse range of outreach activities have been organised by the Institute, such as public lecture series, Peking opera performance, “Confucius Cup” Soccer Games, Chinese Spring Festivals at UCD etc.
Dr Liming Wang, Director of the Institute, said: "The second Award of Excellence by the Hanban has proved that the work being done by the Institute has achieved top standard in the world over the past two year. It is envisaged that the Institute will make further significant contributions to the development of strong cultural and economic links between China and Ireland in the future."