Chinese exchange broadens horizons and creates contacts

In 2018, the University of Borås signed a collaboration agreement with Tiangong University. The agreement is part of the ICM programme, which aims to provide both students and staff with opportunities for exchanges outside Europe. After a troubled start when the pandemic put a stop to the exchange, it finally got underway in 2021. Since then, a total of five Chinese students have arrived at the Swedish School of Textiles to study for a term. No exchange from Sweden to China is planned as China's tightened visa requirements after the pandemic prevent this. This year, three teachers from Tiangong University visited the Swedish School of Textiles for the first time. During their five-week visit, they taught and conducted research together with researchers and teachers from the Swedish School of Textiles.

Andy Zhang, who is in charge of the University of Tiangong's international programme, has high hopes for the exchange.

“I hope that the exchange will strengthen the bilateral collaboration in textiles and in the future also lead to increased collaboration in other areas that the University of Borås and Tiangong University have in common. Tiangong University is one of the most prestigious universities in China when it comes to textiles. Like the University of Borås, we have not only a theoretical but also a practical approach to the textile field, which makes it easy and natural for the two universities to collaborate.”

Andy Zhang also says that China has a lot to learn from Europe and Sweden when it comes to education and is impressed by how problems are solved in collaboration.

“European colleges and universities are more organised and generally have better developed teaching. In China, it is still the case that the teacher teaches and the student takes notes. In Sweden, there is more of a dialogue with the students and they have to tackle the problem together through group work, for example. We can see that the exchange is an ‘eye-opener’ for students and that their new, broader worldview can in some cases lead to life-changing decisions that they might not otherwise have made.”  

Plans for future collaboration

Li Guo, Senior Lecturer in the field of Textile Technology, is Project Leader at the Swedish School of Textiles for the exchange. She believes that the exchange of personnel is important and that Sweden and China have a lot to learn from each other when it comes to research in smart textiles.

"In a period of about five years, China has gone from basic material development to finished product, which is very impressive. Both countries are well advanced in their research on smart textiles, but in different directions. It has therefore been a very successful exchange and there are already plans for future collaborations in terms of research," concluded Li Guo.

The main purpose of the International Credit Mobility (ICM) programme is to provide opportunities for academic, professional, and personal development for students, teachers, and other staff of the participating institutions. The aim is to improve the quality of the participating institutions through increased and high-quality international collaboration, internationalisation, and strategic skills enhancement in all categories of staff.