The Rector of the URV, María José Figueras, and the Vice-Rector for Internationalisation, John Style, have recently visited China to attend the 80th anniversary celebrations of Yunnan Normal University, which each year sends ten students to attend the language courses offered by the URV’s Centre for Hispanic Studies. The URV is intent on strengthening its relations with Chinese universities, which began 13 years ago with the first training programme teaching Spanish as a foreign language and aimed exclusively at Chinese students. In total, the URV has signed 30 different agreements with 17 Chinese universities and one secondary school to promote student and professor mobility and collaboration in research and teaching projects.
The visit by the Rector and Vice-Rector sought to promote new agreements and expand existing ones. Of particular note among these is the agreement signed in 2016 between the URV and Yunnan University of Finance and Economics, which has enabled ten Chinese students a year to study at the URV. This agreement will be expanded with the consolidation of the double master’s degree that combines the URV’s Master’s Degree in Tourism Destination Management and YUFE’s Master’s Degree in Tourism and Hotel Management, and with new projects involving researchers again from the Faculty of Tourism and Geography. They share their expertise and collaborate in designing and preparing for tourists the historic Tea Horse Road joining the Chinese province of Yunnan with Vietnam in the south-east and Tibet in the north-west.
The number of Chinese students studying at the URV has increased steadily since the first ones arrived in 2005-06 for the Spanish language programme aimed exclusively at Chinese university students studying Spanish as a foreign language. Since then, a total of 1382 students from various Chinese universities have attended the various courses in Spanish as a foreign language (ELE) on offer at the URV, with 137 students registering last year alone. In this regard, the URV is regarded by Chinese universities as a leading institution for its role in bringing teaching innovation in ELE to the country because the Chinese students who attend its courses and go on to become professors of Spanish introduce the URV’s methodology to universities in their own countries.
Although the highest number of Chinese students at the URV are to be found on its ELE courses, there are also others registered for the URV’s bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, with numbers increasing from 53 to 63 in recent years. Most of these are doctoral students (42 students, or 67%), followed by master’s students (14, or 22%) and finally bachelor’s students (7, or 11%). To these should be added the 9 students who have studied at the URV through mobility programmes since 2014. Likewise, since 2013 eight URV students have also taken advantage of mobility programmes to study at Chinese universities.
In addition to teaching, the agreements between the URV and the Chinese universities also focus on research. Consequently, various researchers have collaborated and continue to collaborate in European or Spanish funded research projects, which have led to URV researchers publishing 485 scientific articles in collaboration with researchers at 94 Chinese institutions during the 2013-18 period.