About Confucius at Ulster
Principal of St Columb's College in Derry, Noel Finn signing the agreement with Jonathan Bell MLA, First Minister Peter Robinson, Chinese Consul General for Scotland and Northern Ireland, Mr Li Ruiyou and Vice Chancellor Professor Richard Barnett
In July 2011, the University was chosen by the Confucius Institute Headquarters to be home to a prestigious institute aimed at fostering closer ties between China and Northern Ireland.
The Confucius Institute at the University of Ulster (CIUU) will develop academic, cultural, economic and social ties between the two countries.
The institute, whose Northern Ireland headquarters will be based in Coleraine, will be part of a network of 322 institutes in over 50 countries which promote and teach Chinese language and culture and facilitate cultural exchanges aimed at fostering trade links with China. It will operate in partnership with the Zhejiang University of Media and Communications in south-eastern China.
Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard Barnett signed the agreement with Hanban, the Confucius Institute HQ, an offshoot of the Chinese Ministry of Education during a visit to the country.
"We are also delighted to team up with the respected Zhejiang University of Media and Communications and look forward to working forward to developing that relationship.
"Confucius Institutes not only promote the teaching of Chinese language and culture but facilitate the training of language teachers, cultural and academic exchanges and research into China's education system, economy, the arts and society.
The institute, whose Northern Ireland headquarters will be based in Coleraine, will be part of a network of 322 institutes in over 50 countries which promote and teach Chinese language and culture and facilitate cultural exchanges aimed at fostering trade links with China
"In doing so, they have become a vital cog in the relationships China builds with the countries in which they operate.
"The Confucius Institute at the University of Ulster will also act as a catalyst for the further development of business links between China and Northern Ireland. We look forward to working with the business community to ensure that Northern Ireland gains maximum benefits from this exciting new initiative."
He said: "We are delighted Hanban has chosen our bid to establish a Confucius Institute in Northern Ireland, based in Coleraine but operating across all our campuses.
The setting up of CIUU will enable the University to significantly expand our Chinese language and cultural teaching which currently includes the part-time Diploma in Mandarin Chinese on our Belfast campus and our BA Hons Applied Languages and Translation course.
It will also provide a valuable resource that anyone in Northern Ireland wishing to build partnerships with China can utilise whether they are in education, business, the arts or government.
Professor Shaojian Peng, president and vice-chancellor of Zhejiang University of Media and Communications, welcomed the setting up of the CIUU.
"Zhejiang University of Media and Communications is delighted to work closely with colleagues in the University of Ulster and is very excited about our partnership," he said.
"We very much look forward to the relationship between China and Northern Ireland flourishing through the work of the universities through CIUU across all levels – academically, commercially and culturally."
UK and Ireland
Confucius Institutes operate on every continent, in universities and other educational institutions. In the UK, there are Confucius Institutes in the universities of Edinburgh, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Nottingham, Liverpool, Sheffield, Wales at Lampeter, Central Lancashire, London South Bank and the London School of Economics.
There are two other Confucius Institutes on the island of Ireland, based at University College Cork and University College Dublin.
Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, explained: "CIUU's mission will be to work with government, business and academia to enhance Northern Ireland's profile in China while promoting a greater interest in this part of the world in Chinese language, culture, society and business.
"CIUU has been set up with an initial five year plan and we expect by 2016 it will have made a significant contribution to strengthening Chinese-Northern Ireland relations.
"We will achieve this by:
- Teaching of Chinese language to undergraduate students and the wider public;
- Promoting an awareness of Chinese language and culture across Northern Ireland;
- Acting as a focal point to promote China-related activities across Northern Ireland;
- Developing and promoting teaching and research links between China and Northern Ireland, including hosting scholars, researchers and language teachers from China;
- Providing services to the public and private sectors that will facilitate a deepening of economic links between China and Northern Ireland."
While having its administrative headquarters in Coleraine, CIUU will also operate offices in the University's Belfast campus.
Preparations are now at an advanced stage for the official launch of CIUU which will take place on the 13 April 2012 and will be marked by a week-long series of events taking place throughout Northern Ireland.