From Nottingham to Ningbo

Nottingham in China is only ten years old. There are some 5800 students, mainly Chinese and over 280 academic staff, mainly international. As a seconded staff member, my role is to make sure that the Nottingham way of doing things is maintained here in China. Nottingham Ningbo, like Nottingham Malaysia, is part of the global entity that is the University of Nottingham, so all parts must adhere to the same standards. Local differences do occur and are fully recognised, but the focus is on critical thinking, doing everything in English and making sure that the teaching of most staff is informed by their research.

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Administration Building, University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China

I have been in China for a little over a year as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Education and presently Acting Dean of the Graduate School. I have about 20 months to go. After almost twenty years teaching in the Department of Art History at Nottingham, it was quite a change to turn to an almost complete focus on university  senior management, strategic planning and other such delights. As I do almost no teaching and supervise just a few doctoral students back in the UK, the focus of my life is now quite different from what I was used to at Nottingham. I also do far less dedicated research although, I am involved in a project that is looking at museum display in China and I hope to be able to publish something useful when I get back.

Being an academic here and doing academic things is not much different from the years I spent at University Park. The big difference is that I am now doing it all in China. The climate, weather, food, air quality, it is all different. The language is a problem, as is just crossing the road. Yet, you get used to anything and after a year, I have no regrets about coming here for three years. I miss my children, Channel 4 News and a few other things, but China is endlessly stimulating, culturally rich and intriguing and I fully plan to get the most out of my remaining time here.

For University of Nottingham, UK, students interested in China, Nottingham Ningbo’s two-week Summer School is offered for the last week of June and the first week of July.

For those of you who will be still around, I will see you in the autumn of 2015!

Fintan Cullen, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Education and Acting Dean of the Graduate School, University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China

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