Leave them a beaver (no Lama)

When in China, don't mention Tibet but do wash well, firm's code advises. David Matthews reports

October 27, 2011

Leaked documents have shed light on the rather candid advice, covering such topics as off-limit areas of discussion and personal hygiene, that was apparently given to lecturers who applied to teach in Chinese universities on programmes approved by Welsh universities.

Prospective lecturers were told that they could face 12-hour power outages, advised to view local staff as "commodities" and counselled to bring gifts with appropriate foreign symbols, including "iconic animals such as a beaver".

The code of conduct was prepared by EduLink China, a private organisation that has managed partnerships between Welsh universities and Chinese institutions.

The code lists previous complaints by lecturers based in the country, including long power cuts and a lack of clarity about which students are enrolled on which courses.

It also advises readers that foreign lecturers in China hold an "exalted position" compared with local staff.

"You are an expert; they are a commodity," it states.

Gift-giving is not the norm, it explains, but for formal meetings with university officials, any gifts "should have an appropriate foreign link which will be obvious (eg, the flag of your country, the crest of your university, an iconic animal such as a beaver)".

The document also asks lecturers to "please note that you are a guest in China and as such you should not write or say things to offend your hosts".

It then lists "sensitive" topics including the Japanese, colonialism, "territorial integrity and the right of people to self-determination", human rights, religious freedom, communism, Taiwan and Tibet.

It even offers advice on personal grooming: "Regardless of what you are doing, good personal grooming (hair, face, teeth, hands, feet) and hygiene do not (just) help to give a good impression to those who you meet: these are expected qualities of any person."

The code says that the lecturer to whom it was sent would be working on a "University of Wales-approved programme".

EduLink China said that the institutions it works with "exhibit high-quality standards".

It added that it had once run a programme validated by the University of Wales, but the relationship had come to an end several years ago.

The University of Wales confirmed this.

Bangor University said that it currently "recognised" two-year diplomas run at the Chinese universities involved.

But it added that EduLink China had no obligation to consult Bangor over the induction it gave its lecturers and that the code of conduct did not reflect the university's views.

Swansea University said a contract with EduLink China to recruit Chinese students had ended in March.

"EduLink China has not been contracted to deliver any academic programmes, lectures or teaching for Swansea University," a spokeswoman for the institution said.

The university would contact EduLink China to request it remove references to Swansea as a "partner" from its website, she added.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments