Increasing interest in China collaboration 

"We are becoming increasingly satisfied with the exchange student programme with China." The words are from Annette Theodorsson, professor of neurosurgery and in charge of the international exchange programme run by the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences for medical students. She was a member of LiU's delegation to Shanghai and Guangzhou at the end of November last year.

Tongji University

"We have had Chinese students from Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine for twelve weeks during the autumn, and they went home again in the middle of November. The Swedish students had also returned home by then. We exchange two students each year," Annette Theodorsson informs us.

The only problem with the exchange that she can point to is language, since the students must establish contact with patients. This, however, usually works out reasonably well.

"Chinese students are becoming better at English, as are the supervisors assigned to our Swedish students when they travel to China."

Invaluable experience

And the problems are small, compared with the advantages of the programme.

Annette Theodorsson Annette Theodorsson Photo credit: Monica Westman"Our students gain experience of a completely different culture and work in a system that is totally different from the Swedish system. This leads to personal development that is invaluable for what they will face in the future," she says.

Annette Theodorsson was a member of the delegation from Linköping University that travelled to Shanghai and Guangzhou, China, during the last week of November. The aim of the visit was to maintain old contacts and form new ones.

"I was greeted with open arms, and Jiao Tong University definitely wants to increase collaboration. The university is particularly interested in research collaboration - in fact, this dominates its list of priorities," she tells us.
This is, however, difficult to impose from the top down. Research collaboration occurs at the level of the individual and contact must also be made at this level, in order for the collaboration to work.

Great interest 

Signing a MoU at Tongji UniversitySigning a MoU at Tongji University Photo credit: Monica WestmanThe reception at Tongji University was just the same: also here they want to establish collaboration between the medical faculties. A memorandum of understanding is already in place, and a new one was signed by the vice-chancellors of Tongji and LiU, Zhihua Zhong and Helen Dannetun, during the delegation's visit to Tongji. The agreement covers all faculties and types of collaboration, not only student exchange but also research collaboration, as long as both parties agree.

"Even so, I got the impression that they want to start with students and teachers, and subsequently extend the collaboration to research. The dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Tongji, Dr Zheng Jialin, expressed a strong interest in translational research, in which the direction of the research is determined by clinical requirements, and the results can be directly used in the clinic."

A further field in which they were interested was interprofessional education, in which students from different undergraduate courses at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences work together in a team. Each student has individual specialist expertise, while gaining understanding and insight into the professions of others.

This was not the first visit to Tongji by LiU personnel: Professor Folke Sjöberg and Jack Zhe Yang, responsible for LiU's ties with China, visited the university as recently as last summer.

"We already have an agreement, a memorandum of understanding, and now they want the talking to stop. They are ready to dance, and the question now is: 'Are we?'," says Annette Theodorsson.

High goals

Annette TheodorssonAnnette Theodorsson Photo credit: Monica WestmanThey were met by similar feelings at Fudan University in Shanghai.

"Their thirst for knowledge is intense, and they would really like to send all of their students on an international visit during their studies," she says.

If it was up to Annette Theodorsson alone, LiU would set an equally high goal, but it's important that the conditions are right.

"At the moment we send maybe 25-30 students abroad each year to our various partner universities. And there is an increasing number of students who are what we call 'free-movers', who travel to universities with which LiU does not have an official agreement. A popular destination is the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ruhuna on Sri Lanka. I would, however, like every medical student at LiU to gain experience of working abroad during their undergraduate years. It gives both professional and personal development," she says.

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