24 May

How do our students prepare for life at Edinburgh?

Scott McQuarrie, Regional Manager - East Asia


Wǒ jiào Scott McQuarrie. I work in the Edinburgh Global office at the University of Edinburgh. I am responsible for the University’s recruitment activity in East Asia and have been managing a series of pre-departure briefing sessions and information events over the last week.

This trip has taken me to Taipei, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Shanghai, where I’ve had the pleasure of meeting more than 500 offer-holders and prospective students. The purpose of this activity is two-fold: to promote the University as a world-class higher education institution, and to comprehensively prepare students for arriving in Edinburgh in September.

Scott with alumni speaker Vicky

One of our former students, Vicky, who spoke to those preparing to begin their studies


Our aim is to recruit the brightest and best minds from the region, whether they are undergraduate, postgraduate or visiting students. The University of Edinburgh currently hosts over 3,000 students from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao. This is approximately 8% of our student body and contributes to the wide diversity on campus (156 nationalities and approximately 15,000 international students overall).


The University has a long tradition of welcoming students from the region. Dr Huang Kuan graduated from the University in 1855 and was the first Chinese student recorded to have studied in the West. We now have approximately 10,000 alumni from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao many of whom play an important role in our pre-departure briefing sessions. The alumni speakers who attended our information events provided an up-to-date student perspective on wide range of topics such as employability, teaching style and the Scottish weather(!).


A special mention must also go to the Edinburgh University Chinese Students and Scholars Association (EUCSSA) who have arranged speakers at all our events. EUCSSA is one of the largest student societies on campus and arrange a number of events throughout the year. These vary from sporting competitions, the Lantern Festival, and Chinese New Year celebrations. EUCSSA also provide an airport greeting service for all students arriving from China that they co-ordinate via WeChat. It’s a huge undertaking and one which is very much appreciated by incoming students and their families.


One of the information slides used in my presentation


This trip has also provided an opportunity to highlight our engagement with the ‘China Ready’ project which is being coordinated by Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG). The project aims to make Edinburgh more accessible for visitors from China. The social media strand of the project involves city-wide promotion through Weibo and WeChat and has multiple partners which comprises of a number of Edinburgh-based businesses. The University plays a prominent role in the project and provides yet another way for our students from China to engage with both the University and the City of Edinburgh online.

H Kong skyline 1

Hong Kong by night


It’s inspiring to meet so many students who are looking to challenge themselves by undertaking an international education. The reward of experiencing a new culture is something that they will never forget. Whether they have engaged with us in person at an in-country event, or through an online platform, we look forward to welcoming all students in September!


15 May

China – a land of opportunities

Prof James Smith

By Professor James Smith

Vice-Principal International, The University of Edinburgh

I write this from my hotel room, having just flown into Hong Kong, tired but excited about what promises to be an important week for the University of Edinburgh and our work with partners across China.

Over the coming days, our delegation of some 30 people will visit Hong Kong, Shanghai and Hangzhou. The large number of people involved reflects two things: firstly, the importance of China to the University, and secondly the sheer variety of exciting partnerships and joint activities which we are developing across the Country.

H Kong skyline 1

Hong Kong’s stunning skyline


China is important to us for a number of reasons. Each year we welcome more than 2,000 students from China, resulting in a large and highly engaged alumni community all of whom are of huge value to the University. I’m looking forward to the alumni receptions we’ll hold in both Hong Kong and Shanghai, allowing me to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.

We also enjoy strong relationships with several outstanding universities in the region, many of which we are visiting on this trip. These include Hong Kong University, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Shanghai Jiao Tong, Fudan, Donghua and Zhejiang Universities. They are also institutions where, in various ways, we can complement each other, collaborating and developing innovative teaching and excellent research together.

Shanghai 1

Shanghai by night


Ultimately China is important to us simply because China is so important. Its growing political, economic and cultural significance is felt globally and it is important that Edinburgh engages constructively to ensure our work has impact, in all its forms. China is also significant in terms of how it has embraced new ways of doing things. Transnational education – the delivery of teaching and awarding of qualifications from an institution in one country to students in another – is crucial to how we deliver education now and in the future.

New technologies and ways of thinking, new economic centres of gravity, and emerging disciplinary areas converge to drive fresh ways of teaching new material to meet new demands. China is embracing these approaches to help meet the demands of their students and we are exploring them to meet our goals of broadening global access to our education and impact of our research.

So, China offers enormous possibilities through both scale and innovation. It is no surprise that some of our most enterprising partnerships and teaching takes place there. With Donghua University we have an exciting collaboration with Edinburgh College of Art around fashion and the creative industries. Edinburgh academics regularly travel to Shanghai to teach students there, and students in Shanghai have the option of spending the final two years of their degree programme studying in Edinburgh.

This academic year we welcomed the first group of students into our new undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences, taught through our joint institute with Zhejiang University. This involves the teaching of a four-year undergraduate degree entirely in English at Zhejiang’s new international campus, near Shanghai.


Edinburgh and Zhejiang faculty pose for the camera


During our visit we will be developing other collaborative possibilities, around low-carbon innovation, for example. These are opportunities for us to explore, engage and innovate, and work together to develop joint teaching and research that can equip students to shape their futures. It promises to be an exciting visit at an exciting time for international higher education.

15 May

Travel really does broaden the mind

By Ed Craig

Head of Enterprise & Innovation, Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI)

The University of Edinburgh

Ed Craig

As an experienced traveller, and regular visitor to China, I have to admit some surprise following my introduction to Singapore. I had heard in advance of the City’s efficiency, and of course the heat and humidity, but what i did not expect was a serenity and strong feeling that all was good in the world.

singapore lion statue

This was a real tonic to what has been a time of global change, concern, dread even, regarding Brexit and Trump, never mind the state of the environment. As a taxi drove me through spotless streets I noticed the aftermath of a recent serious car crash. “Or dear” I remarked to the driver, “looks bad”. He responded: “No I think it’s fine – look they are walking and smiling!” and sure enough, despite the wreckage of three cars littering the road, the people had an look of acceptance, even contentedness. I contrasted this to how UK drivers would have reacted, probably with a lot of finger-pointing and anger.

The events I attended, as the University launched its new Representative Office for Southeast Asia, were excellent and well-attended, and the positivity augers well for our future work in the region.


Ed Craig (left) with colleagues


The genuine friendliness I found in Singapore, blended with the quality of English spoken and inner-confidence of almost all the people I met was quite disarming. I am used to the urgency and vigour of Hong Kong, which can sometimes take the form of a “are you wasting my time?” mentality, while in mainland China I find social norms to be more abrupt and sometimes aggressive. I have been quite taken with Singapore as a location not to do business – but to form lasting partnerships.

15 May

Going global in Singapore

By Dr Chris Yeomans

Deputy Director, Edinburgh Global, the University of Edinburgh

Chris yeomans

I write this sitting in Singapore Changi airport, preparing to head to Hong Kong, following a hectic, but hugely enjoyable, few days. My purpose in being here has been to oversee the opening of our new Representative Office for Southeast Asia, which will help the University realise its ambition of working with the best and the brightest wherever they are in the world.

Located in Singapore, the Office is headed by Regional Director for Southeast Asia, Audrey Kon, who has done a fine job co-ordinating the launch activities and ensuring a successful series of events to mark the opening.

Audrey Kon (centre) at the reception in Singapore

Audrey Kon (centre) at the reception in Singapore


A delegation, led by Vice-Principal International, Professor James Smith, has spent the last couple of days meeting with key partners and potential partners in Singapore, building on existing collaborations, initiating new connections, and raising awareness of our new Office. A key priority for the Office is to deepen understanding of local cultures, systems and processes, to help us understand the opportunities and challenges of operating in Southeast Asia.


The culmination of the launch was a dinner, bringing together a rich cross-section of the University’s friends, partners and contacts in the region. Speeches by Professor Smith and International Dean for Southeast Asia, Professor David Weller, provided a flavour of the University and what we hope to achieve in Singapore and across the region over the coming years.

Prof David Weller (left) & Prof James Smith

Prof David Weller (left) & Prof James Smith


The new office joins our five existing overseas Global Offices, serving North America, Latin America, South Asia, and East Asia China. And it is to China that I now head, looking forward to a week of exciting activities in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Edinburgh Global

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