First Minister Alex Salmond will be guest of honour at one of 10 lectures hosted in venues throughout Scotland in the programme devised by Dr Vincent Oates, of the University’s School of Education, in conjunction with the University of the West of Scotland and the Scotland China Education Network.
Mr Salmond said: "Scotland and China share strong economic, cultural and educational links and the excellent work of Confucius Institutes is an increasingly important part of the bonds of friendship and understanding between our nations. I have had the pleasure of visiting China on three occasions as First Minister to strengthen business and education links between our two countries.
"Scotland is a land of innovation and invention – but to build strong, long-lasting relations, you must develop cultural understanding and friendship between people. It is vital that the Scottish Government, our agencies and Scotland's business and education organisations do all they can to continue advancing Scotland's relationship with China, particularly as we pursue opportunities to build growth and build a stronger Scotland."
Dr Oates said: "This ground-breaking initiative places Strathclyde at the forefront of a national debate which will, for the first time, offer a Chinese perspective on key aspects of Scotland’s domestic policy.
"The aim is to provoke a high-profile debate in Scotland and raise awareness of the growing importance of China, from an educational, cultural and commercial perspective.
"This unique programme will play an important role in helping to inform policy makers, with whom I am in close contact as a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Working Group on China.
"This initiative gives Strathclyde, as home to the Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools, the opportunity to lead a consortium of Scottish universities in an examination of Scotland’s increasingly important relationship with China."
The opening ceremony will be held at the University of Strathclyde – hosted by Professor Sir Jim McDonald – on Monday October 29 and the series will conclude at Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, on Monday November 12. Partners in the University of Strathclyde-led initiative include the Scotland China Education Network, the Confucius Institute for Scotland, the Crichton Foundation, Dumfries and Galloway College, as well as the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, the West of Scotland and Aberdeen.
Themes will include a comparison of Scotland and China’s education systems, Chinese perceptions of the European Union, attitudes of young Chinese and business practices in China. The programme will include speeches from Chinese academics from the Universities of Zhejiang, Zhejiang Normal, Minjiang, Nankai, Peking and Beijing Normal.
Mr Salmond will attend the University of Aberdeen-hosted event on Monday November 5, where the theme will be “Entrepreneurship Education and Entrepreneurship Practice in China”.
Dr Alasdair Allan MSP, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages; Gill Paterson MSP; Graeme Pearson MSP, Convener of the Cross Party Group on China; and Mike Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, will be among attendees at other lectures in the series.
Dr Oates said: “The participation of these senior figures testifies to the growing national awareness, in Scotland, of the importance of Sino-Scottish engagement. I am delighted that the University of Strathclyde is playing a leading role in this emerging national debate.”
The University of Strathclyde’s Confucius Institute, launched in June, was established to support to schools around Scotland in their teaching of Chinese language and culture. It will initially work with 10 existing Confucius classroom hubs, plus an additional three announced today for South Lanarkshire, Falkirk and the City of Edinburgh, with the intention of expanding the network in primary and secondary schools across the country.
It is based at SCILT, Scotland’s National Centre for Languages, part of the University’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. It joined a global network of more than 350 Confucius Institutes and 500 Confucius classrooms in 101 countries and regions, all working to meet the sharp increase in demand for Chinese learning