Launching today, a new pilot project aims to support Chinese students who have studied in the UK and returned home, are planning to start a UK course or are studying online transnationally, gain better access to UK learning materials and resources, and synchronous teaching for their studies. Jisc, is leading the pilot with the support of education sector bodies ucisa, Universities UK International and the British Council.
This opportunity to work with Chinese students and staff, will help improve the quality and performance of connectivity, and reliable access to course material and VLE systems hosted on the Janet Network, or other cloud provider’s networks. On completion of the pilot project, this support will be extended out to benefit students in other countries.
The impact of this programme will be significant as international students bring almost £7bn per year to the UK economy. Chinese students account for 23% of all international students studying in the UK, the largest cohort of students.
Jisc’s head of international, Dr Esther Wilkinson, says:
“Chinese students are key to a thriving higher education sector and this project will help institutions offer them a quality equitable student experience, even though they may no longer be able to physically be on campus in the UK, at least in the short term. This pilot aims to give Chinese students the best possible online learning experience reflecting the world-leading quality and academic standards of UK higher education.””
Professor Colin Grant, vice-principal (international) at Queen Mary University of London says:
“We are delighted that Queen Mary is involved in this innovative new project. Wherever they are in the world, we are committed to providing our students with an outstanding learning experience by helping them fully engage with their education at Queen Mary and our wider community. The enhanced access to online resources provided by Jisc and Alibaba’s solution will help our students in China do just that.”
Professor 'Funmi Olonisakin, vice-president and vice-principal international and professor of security, leadership and development at King’s says:
"King's is delighted to work in partnership with other universities and sector bodies on this vital project. Our Chinese students are an important part of our international community and we are passionate about ensuring they can access the high-quality King’s education that is highly respected by employers around the globe, as well as an enriching university experience, whatever their circumstances. We look forward to sharing the learnings of this important work with partners and other institutions in due course."
Arthur Clune, director of infrastructure and faculty IT services at the University of York explains:
"As an internationally focused university with close links to China the University of York is excited to work with our project partners to further improve the educational experience we provide to our students in mainland China."
Mal Allerton, executive director of iSolutions at the University of Southampton said:
“The University of Southampton is a leading Russell Group University with a reputation for academic achievement with IT resources designed to make study, work and research efficient and productive for all our staff and students. We aim to deliver the highest quality learning experience possible to our students wherever they are located. This innovative cloud-based service will make it easier for our students distributed throughout China to access their online learning resources, be that static online content or live interactions with staff and other class members.
“It is important for us that the service is consistently stable so that everyone has the same academic opportunity and becomes an equal part of the University of Southampton.”
The result of a collaboration between Jisc and Chinese multinational technology company, Alibaba Cloud, the pilot solution will explore how students in China can access their virtual learning environments (VLE), whether these are hosted at a UK university campus or on a third-party provider’s network. The project will look at the enhancement of speed and reliability compared to current solutions, access to specific content, as well as the costs of implementing these measures.
“Alibaba’s solution can be implemented quickly and is ideal for examinations or real-time teaching that now has to take place online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are exploring how this can be used at scale with a view to creating a sector-wide, OJEU-compliant, multi-supplier framework for the UK. We are doing what Jisc does best, working together with the sector to provide affordable and appropriate solutions for our members as a trusted partner”
If you would like to register your interest in solutions that we are exploring in China, please complete our online form. If you have any questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
 When referencing Chinese students this is reference to international students domiciled in China.