From 21-28 September 2019, the Open University of China (OUC) sent a delegation of five people headed by vice president Yang Xiaotang to visit the University of Goroka in Papua New Guinea and Massey University in New Zealand. The delegation attended the launch ceremony of the Confucius Education, Culture, and Research Centre (hereinafter referred to as Confucius Centre) at the University of Goroka and signed a Memorandum of Understanding and also held talks and reached cooperation intentions with Massey University in the areas of online distance teaching and teaching Chinese as a foreign language.

On the morning of 23 September, Yang Xiaotang, vice chancellor of the OUC, Musawe Sinebare, Teng Waninga, deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Goroka, and Robert Parua, project officer of the UNESCO Beijing Office, attended the launch ceremony and signed the memorandum of cooperation between the two universities. Yang Xiaotang said that the establishment of the Confucius Centre is conducive to the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative. It will help the concept of a community focused on the shared future of mankind to take root and yield results, enhance the Chinese proficiency of local students, spread traditional Chinese culture, and promote the common aspirations of the people. The delegation then visited the Confucius Centre, which is located in a dormitory of the University of Goroka.

On the afternoon of 23 September, the leaders of the University of Goroka and the delegation from the OUC held in-depth discussions on the co-construction of the Confucius Institute and other cooperation matters listed in the memorandum. Yang Xiaotang proposed that the two universities could cooperate in terms of personnel exchange, education research, distance open education, cultural exchange, Chinese teaching, and continuing education. At the same time, in order to promote economic and trade exchanges between the two countries, cooperative education in business management can be developed when the time is right. In addition, the OUC and the University of Goroka will apply to Hanban for the establishment of a Confucius Institute on the basis of the Confucius Centre and will assist in the construction of two cloud classrooms equipped with computer and video communication facilities. Vice chancellor Musawe Sinebare said that the cooperation has laid a solid foundation for the university to enter the international market, effectively improved the teaching and research level of the university, and will help more students go to China for exchanges and study. He hopes to send the first group of teachers and students to the OUC for exchange and study at the end of this year or early next year.

From 25-26 September, a delegation from the OUC visited Massey University, New Zealand. Mr. Stuart Morriss, deputy vice-chancellor of Massey University, received the delegation at the Manawatū campus (Palmerston North ), the main campus of Massey University. He introduced the history and development of Massey University and emphasised the friendly relationship between Massey University and China, saying that Massey University is the first New Zealand University to receive a president from a Chinese university and sign a memorandum of cooperation with a Chinese university.

The delegation also visited the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Massey University will offer Chinese Language courses next year. The two sides talked about Chinese teaching and proposed and discussed four intentions for the cooperation, including cooperative research, expert introduction, the introduction of teaching resources for Chinese as a foreign language, and the training of Chinese teachers. The person in charge of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences said that he was very interested in introducing teaching resources for Chinese as a foreign language from the OUC as extensive reading materials for students majoring in Chinese language at Massey University .

Later, the head of the International Office of Massey University held a remote video conference with the delegation at the Wellington campus to explore the possibility of cooperation between the two universities in the areas of remote online teaching and teaching Chinese as a foreign language. The delegation planned to draft a memorandum of cooperation after returning home and submit it to the International Office of Massey University for confirmation and hopes to complete the signing of the memorandum of cooperation by the end of this year or early next year.

The delegation also visited the distance online teaching department of Massey University and learned about the list of distance online courses offered by the university for international students. After holding preliminary discussions, both sides believe that the health management courses can be used as pilot subjects to carry out joint distance education. Yang Xiaotang said that the OUC will actively apply to the Ministry of Education of China to solve the problem of the recognition of degrees and diplomas obtained through distance learning, so as to ensure the feasibility of the cooperation.

By Dai Jing, OUC