A University of Edinburgh collaboration involving the Confucius Institute and Edinburgh College of Art with Donghua University, Shanghai has won this year’s China-Britain Business Council’s ‘Innovators in Education’ award. The prize was awarded to the partnership that has resulted in the creation and successful establishment of the Shanghai International College of Fashion and Innovation (SCF).
The Donghua Edinburgh Centre for Creative Industries (DECCI) – which is hosted by the Confucius Institute and Donghua University – has both organised and promoted a number of activities, including the annual Fringe fashion show From Shanghai with Love, a summer school programme, and a lecture series.
Accompanying Professor Natascha Gentz, Assistant Principal, China and Director of the Confucius Institute for Scotland in the University of Edinburgh at the Awards Ceremony were colleagues from the Confucius Institute and Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) including Dr Juliette MacDonald, International Dean and Director of the ECA/SCF collaboration. The judging panel said: “Collaboration is vital to a positive China-Scotland relationship and never before have we seen such a degree of partnership. Collaboration and partnership underpin the co-development and innovation of our educational institutions and so the ‘Innovation in Education’ award celebrates innovation by educational partnerships/projects and consortia between Scotland and China.”
The ECA/UoE partnership with Donghua University was initiated in 2014, with the aim of strengthening relationships, sharing expertise and improving educational opportunities. Last year (2019) saw the first cohort of direct entry students from SCF to ECA graduate at the University’s McEwan Hall. Direct entry into third year is an option for SCF students as a part of the collaborative partnership.
Global engagement is a key priority for UoE and Donghua University both institutions are especially keen to support sustainable partnerships where student and staff experience is enriched and where the unique and vibrant international experience for students, researchers, designers and makers based in the two institutions can be developed. Juliette said: “The collaborations have developed from an excellent cross-cultural teaching and learning collaboration, to wider outreach activities within Scotland and research publications, and a solid partnership focusing on sustainability in fashion globally, building international partnerships in education, business and culture between Scotland and China and beyond.”
On her personal experience of spending four months a year in Shanghai, she said: “I love living and working in Shanghai. The city has so much to offer from beautiful parks, amazing opportunities to see art and design in Shanghai’s many art galleries and museums, soaking up the contemporary and historic architecture, and enjoying the vibrant fashion scene. Colleagues and students at Donghua University have made me very welcome and I feel I now have two academic homes, one in Edinburgh and one in Shanghai.”
ECA’s Principal, Professor Juan Cruz, said: “The news of the award, on this day when the UK leaves the European Union after 47 years of membership, is testament to the strong bonds ECA holds with our global neighbours and partners. Collaborations such as DECCI and the Shanghai International College of Fashion and Innovation provide great opportunities for us to remain truly international and to strengthen our links across the world. Despite the significance of today, I strongly echo the words sent to everyone in the University’s community by our Principal, Professor Peter Mathieson, that we will continue to be an international University.”