The Business Confucius Institute at the University of Leeds (BCI) is celebrating five years since it was established to promote the understanding of Chinese language and culture in Leeds and the UK.
In the five years since it began, the Institute has taught over 4000 students and welcomed over 200 candidates to take Chinese proficiency exams. Its busy and varied events programme has reached well over 10,000 people.
As a business-focussed Confucius Institute, the BCI’s work around language and culture also has a strong emphasis on the application of that knowledge for business purposes. The BCI benefits from the expertise of Leeds University Business School and the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE), its partner university in Beijing.
Peter Moizer, Executive Dean of Leeds University Business School, said: “Confucius Institutes specialising in business and commerce are rare in the UK, so Leeds University Business School is extremely proud to celebrate the five year anniversary of the Business Confucius Institute at the University of Leeds.
“The Institute promotes Chinese language and culture to the business world, and also makes connections with China through exchange, research and programme delivery. The work of the Institute over the last five years has been fundamental in supporting our overarching goal of being a truly global business school.
The work of the Institute over the last five years has been fundamental in supporting our overarching goal of being a truly global business school.
Ms Hongwei Yan, Chinese Director at the BCI, said: “在过去的五年，利兹大学商务孔子学院，从无到有，稳步发展。开设汉语课程，举办学术会议，组织文化商务活动。在利兹大学和对外经济贸易大学之间，架起了一座沟通的桥梁. ”
[Over the last five years the BCI has developed steadily. With significant achievements in Chinese language teaching, prominent academic conferences and various business and cultural activities, the BCI now serves as a connecting bridge for communication between the University of Leeds and the University of International Business and Economics].
Looking ahead to the future, BCI Executive Director Dr Giles Blackburne said: “Our Business Confucius Institute will continue to make Chinese language and culture more accessible and understandable to students, businesses and members of the public.
“In particular, we aim to benefit from the research led expertise and networks of the University of Leeds and the University of International Business and Economics to communicate the reality of contemporary China through talks, presentations and discussion panels.
“These activities will continue to strengthen the Institute’s three areas of focus: Chinese language, Chinese culture, and UK-China business. In recognition of the growing number of Chinese businesses and visitors coming to this region, the BCI plans to share its experience with local organisations and businesses to help them welcome Chinese customers more effectively and understand their needs.
“The coming year will also offer a number of events which showcase the university’s understanding about China and reflect the rapid economic and social changes in China today.”
Ms Yan added: “在未来的五年，甚至更长的时间里，我希望，我坚信，利兹商务孔子学院，会在现有的基础上，更上层楼。为中英两国人民之间的教育、学术和商务、文化交流，作出更大的贡献。”
[Over the next five years and beyond, I hope and firmly believe that the BCI will build upon this strong foundation and scale new heights, making an even greater contribution to UK-China links in education, academia, business, and culture].
The BCI has benefitted greatly from the expertise of its previous directors; Professor Peter Buckley and Dr Hinrich Voss, as well as the founding Chinese director Dr Bo Wang.
Dr Wang said: “As one of the co-founders of the BCI, I am proud to see the Institute thrive and become a shining star in Yorkshire and the UK in just five years. Her growth is not just a matter of figures but the growth of the tree of friendship planted and nurtured by numerous gardeners, among them, are the leaders and colleagues of CI Headquarters, the University of Leeds, UIBE and many other stakeholders.”
Reflecting on his experience as founding director of the BCI, Professor Buckley said: “The foundation of the Business Confucius Institute at the University of Leeds in November 2012 was the result of massive preparatory work by Leeds University Business School (LUBS), the University of Leeds and the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE), Beijing.
“Basing the Institute in two centres that had long track records of working on Chinese international business research helped the Institute to get off to a flying start. From this successful base, the BCI has gone from strength to strength. Its work on language, culture and business are mutually reinforcing and it has become a central place for the discussion of issues relating to Chinese business in the round.
“I am extremely proud of the work of the Institute that my successors and the dedicated staff have developed and I look forward to its future with anticipation.”
Dr Hinrich Voss began as Deputy Director when the Institute began, before taking over from Peter Buckley in 2014. “The Business Confucius Institute at the University of Leeds has been a significant addition to the University of Leeds and the Leeds City Region,” Dr Voss said.
“Its agenda to teach Chinese language and culture has enabled it to build bridges across schools, cultural institutions, policy-makers and businesses, and higher education. Over the last five years, the Institute has pursued these objective and created events with partners that have been welcomed by people from all age groups and walk of life.
“It has been a great pleasure to work with a fantastic team and great internal and external support to develop and position the Institute to where it is today”
The Business Confucius Institute will celebrate its anniversary with an event at Parkinson Court on Tuesday 28 November.