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Figure from the traditional Chinese lion dance during a presentation at the UC Chile San Joaquin Campus.
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15 Years of Collaboration

Do You Know All the Programs That UC Chile Has With China?

From the establishment of a Confucius Institute to hosting delegations of globally renowned researchers, UC Chile strengthens its ties with the Asian giant in a legacy spanning over 15 years, marked by collaboration, cultural exchange, and student and academic interactions.

UC Chile President Ignacio Sánchez speaking on a stage next to two figures representing a lion during the celebration of the Chinese New Year.

photo_camera The objective of UC Chile and its Chinese partner universities is to resume and increase pre-pandemic collaborations such as student exchange, research, and the promotion of cultural exchange. (Photo credit: Luis Barriga, UC Chile Office of Communications)

For over 15 years, UC Chile has actively advanced diverse collaborative initiatives with Chinese universities and institutions. These efforts, including cultural exchange, international research, global mobility, and on-campus internationalization, aim to contribute to global development.

UC Chile and its partner universities in China are committed to revitalizing academic knowledge exchange through the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs. The goal is to restore and surpass the pre-pandemic level of collaboration.

“Establishing vital global connections is crucial today. Our university's commitment to Asia, especially China, has notably increased in recent years. In a spirit of mutual international collaboration, we aim to further strengthen this relationship, explore new areas, and address the challenge of shaping global citizens," noted Vice President for International Affairs Lilian Ferrer.

In April 2022, the commencement of the “Internationalization of the UC Chile Undergraduate Program: Monitoring and Impact, Curricular Strengthening, and Exchange with a Special Focus on the Asian Region” program was announced. The funding for this initiative comes from the Institutional Improvement Project (PMI, as per its Spanish acronym) of the Ministry of Education. The program aims to broaden and enhance academic experiences in Asia. This initiative is justified by the relatively low number of academic exchanges and collaborations in this region compared to others.

Presently, UC Chile has strong relationships with significant universities in China, including Nanjing University, Tsinghua University, and Peking University. In recent years, collaborative plans and initiatives have emerged in pursuit of shared goals for addressing global challenges.

UC Confucius Institute: A Bridge Between Chile and China

Nearly 16 years after the agreement was signed between the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Nanjing University to establish the UC Confucius Institute (ICUC, as per its Spanish acronym), it has now solidified its position as one of the foremost cultural and educational hubs for Mandarin Chinese in Chile.

The institute, dedicated to disseminating Chinese language and culture globally, symbolizes strong academic ties between Chile and China. It provides language courses and complimentary cultural activities for the public, along with large-scale events like the Chinese New Year celebration.

Since its 2009 inauguration, in collaboration with the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (Hanban), over 14,000 students have enrolled in Mandarin Chinese courses. These classes, taught by native and Chilean instructors with postgraduate degrees from China, offer a high-quality language learning experience.

In 2022, the UC Confucius Institute and the Office of Global Mobility inaugurated the Conecta Asia scholarship, which has provided over 30 students with the opportunity to learn Mandarin Chinese at no cost.

According to José Luis Parra, the Executive Director of the UC Confucius Institute, "The Institute is deeply committed, not only to our university but also to the country, through language instruction and the promotion of Chinese culture. For nearly 15 years, our mission has been to serve as a cultural and knowledge bridge between Chile and China, offering numerous scholarship opportunities for the UC Chile community and the public to study in China".

Chinese New Year, better known as the Spring Festival (春节 "chūnjié"), is the grandest celebration in the global Chinese community. Thanks to the UC Confucius Institute, this significant family event has been commemorated in Chile with live performances, including music, dance, martial arts, and more.

The first edition of this event, organized by the UC Confucius Institute together with the Municipality of Providencia, the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Chile, and the National Lion and Dragon Dance Federation, was attended by more than 10,000 people in front of the Falabella Palace, the building that houses the municipality. The recent edition on January 12, 2024, set records at the Sculpture Park, attracting more than 25,000 people who enjoyed seven hours of Chinese culture.

UC Chile's President Ignacio Sánchez speaking on a stage next to two figures representing a lion during the celebration of the Chinese New Year.
"For nearly 15 years, our mission has been to serve as a cultural and knowledge bridge between Chile and China, offering numerous scholarship opportunities for the UC Chile community and the public to study in China," said José Luis Parra, Executive Director of the UC Confucius Institute. (Photo credit: 14th Anniversary Confucius Institute/Karina Fuenzalida)

Global Mobility to China

In the pursuit of fostering global student collaboration and exchange, the UC Chile currently maintains 10 active exchange agreements and 16 cooperation agreements with Chinese universities, including Peking University, Nanjing University, and Tsinghua University.

The first agreement for global exchange between UC Chile and China, and vice versa, was established in 2008 with The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

In the past decade, over 30 UC Chile students have participated in exchange programs to China, while our institution has hosted 86 students from China through various long and short-term mobility initiatives.

“In 2020 and 2021, we experienced challenges around mobility and face-to-face exchange with China (due to the pandemic). However, after working closely with our partners, today we are proud to know that our commitment and perseverance are paying off. In less than two years of post-pandemic recovery, we face a transformed landscape with unprecedented exchange figures and abundant opportunities in research, development, and global training," stated Cristian Díaz, Director of Global Mobility of the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs.

The Office of Global Mobility of the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs, collaborating with the UC Confucius Institute and under the UC Chile Undergraduate Internationalization program focusing on Asia (funded by the Institutional Improvement Project of the Ministry of Education), introduced the China Challenge Scholarship in 2022. This initiative provided an opportunity for 11 UC Chile students to learn Mandarin Chinese at no cost and travel to China, where they continued their language courses at Nanjing University.

“It was a wonderful experience. We were able to improve our Chinese and gain a deeper understanding of the country and culture. The experience meant a lot to me— it changed my mindset and expanded my perspective on how we fit into the world," shared Angélica Besa, a UC Chile student who received the scholarship.

Through the Summer University Program in August 2023 and January 2024, UC Chile hosted 60 students from Tsinghua University majoring in International Business, Architecture, and Environmental Sciences. The group was accompanied by Dr. Taotao Chen, the Director of the Latin American Center at Tsinghua University, located in Santiago of Chile since 2018.

By 2024, it is anticipated that a delegation of UC Chile students will be confirmed to visit Tsinghua University, reflecting the ongoing international collaborations between the two institutions.

Research and Exchange of New Knowledge

Part of the delegation from the Tsinghua University with the Vice President of International Affairs, Lilian Ferrer and Pangui, the UC Chile mascot.
Innovation, international relations, and the exchange of knowledge in life sciences, astronomy, arts, and business are among the areas of collaborative focus with Tsinghua University. (Photo credit: Visit of Tsinghua University delegation with Vice President Lilian Ferrer and "Pangui"/Samuel Díaz)

The collaborative and interdisciplinary efforts of various university departments have led to initiatives that significantly impact the establishment of a university community engaged in international networks and research with a global perspective.

In October 2023, as part of the 50th-anniversary celebration of diplomatic relations between Chile and China, Lilian Ferrer, the Vice President for International Affairs, embarked on her inaugural tour of the Asian region, with a specific emphasis on China. The primary goal was to enhance connections with three prominent universities in the country—Tsinghua University, Nanjing University, and Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine—addressing the future of academic and research relations as a key element in the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

The partnership with Tsinghua University is embedded in a comprehensive framework of diverse collaborations across various domains. It underscores a profound commitment and mutual interest between the two universities in innovation, international relations, and knowledge exchange, particularly in the fields of life sciences, astronomy, arts, and business.

In 2022, amidst online collaborations due to the pandemic, UC Chile, in partnership with Tsinghua University, hosted the webinar "Chile | China Global Conversations About Arts & Culture." This platform was dedicated to the exchange of knowledge concerning the arts and culture of both countries. In 2023, UC Chile received a delegation of 15 researchers and academics from different faculties of Tsinghua University. Among them was Dr. Sai Li, a structural biologist and professor in the Department of Life Sciences, renowned for leading the research on the first high-quality structural sample of SARS-CoV-2.

In the coming years, new collaborations are expected between the different research areas of the Chinese universities and the UC Chile. These will involve facilitating new visits and academic exchange opportunities, enabling responses to emerging global challenges through the establishment of networks.






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