Former advertisingentrepreneur Zhongyi Wang thought he had a clear career vision before coming toEdinburgh Business School for an MBA.
Wang wanted to gainan international perspectivs and use it to expand his company’s non-Chineseclient base. But his alma mater came calling with a job offer that wasimpossible to ignore!
The Tianjin-native isnow the head of Heriot-Watt University(HWU)’s China & East Asia office, and describes it as “a dream come true”when the Scottish university offered him a full-time job managing its EastAsian market, five years after graduation.
“I have always hadclose ties with my alma mater and especially Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh Business School. When I acceptedthe job I knew that I had a distinctive advantage other MBA grads perhapsdidn’t have: knowing both Scottish and Chinese culture, I could successfullypromote this cultural and educational exchange,” says Wang, who got his MBA in2003.
During the time ofwaiting for graduation ceremony for his MBA degree, Wang was asked to help outin a Chinese market research project in education for Interactive University(IU), an non-profitable organization in Scotland. Impressive work was turnedin, and he was asked to establish a China office to promote Scottish highereducation.
Wang, at the timestill a director at Tianjin MeiRui Adverting Co. Ltd., next worked for Scottish Qualifications Authority(SQA), Scotland’s national accreditation and awarding body, as a marketingmanager. He was at that post for a year before being approached by HWU, whotook notice of the job he had done at IU and SQA.
After working closelywith the Chinese authorities and institutes for a few years, he had accumulateda rich book of contacts in China that proved to serve his next role well.
His official jobdescription of the Heriot-Watt role heavily focuses on establishing anddeveloping partnership as well as student recruitment. Wang began his post inAugust 2008 with less than 100 students from China mainland market attendingHWU; last year, this number rose to around 400.
Now the Universityhas expanded his responsibility to some East Asia’s regions and countries, suchas Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea.
How did he do that?“The key is to find accredited partner in this region,” says Wang, whomasterminded the strategic partnership between his employer and Chinese Service Centre For ScholarlyExchange(CSCSE), which is affiliated to the Chinese Ministry ofEducation and offers services for Chinese students studying abroad.
Wang says:“Well-worked partnership with CSCSE has helped HWU enhancing the university’sportfolio in the local market and provided opportunities not only incollaboration with some famous local universities and recruiting students forstudying in Scotland, but also providing approaches for research collaborationand tight links with Chinese education authorities.
“To put it simple:enhance the university’s marketability in China on to a much greater level frominside.”
His other role is toimprove HWU’s branding in East Asian countries and explore on potentialjoint-operations.
Wang says suchjoint-operation between West and East can be full of challenges: “Differentcultures have different understanding towards the core value of education. Sothe hard bit of this job is to run a daily operation within the Chinese systemand custom but at the same time to seek for the maximum commercial andeducational benefits for Heriot-Watt University.”
Joint-operationbetween Chinese and British universities is nothing new. The University ofNottingham started the trend in 2006, opening its Chinese campus in Ningbo,second-biggest City in China’s vibrant Zhejiang Province.
Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University,jointly founded by Xi’an Jiaotong University of China and the University ofLiverpool of the UK is another joint venture began operation in 2011.
This March, China’sMinistry of Education approved HWU and Tianjin University of Science &Technology to joint run Bachelor of Engineering in Bio-engineering (Brewing andDistilling) program in China, allowing students to study in Tianjin instead ofEdinburgh, but with an option of transferring from China to Scotland.
Wang believes joint-operationis “the way forward” for any foreign university wanting to “strengthen” itsAsian pr...