A delegation led by Fan Xianrui, a member of the Party Committee and vice president of the Open University of China (OUC), visited Belgium, Ireland, and France from 5 to 14 December 2023.

The aim of the visit was to conduct field research on the digital transformation of higher education and the international development of senior education. Additionally, the delegation sought to explore opportunities for international exchanges and cooperation in these areas.


Delegation of the OUC visited European University Association

Delegation of the OUC visited Faculty of Engineering Science at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven)

During their stay in Belgium, the delegation visited the Chinese Mission to the European Union to gather information on the EU's digital education strategy and its related programmes. Following this, they proceeded to the European University Association (EUA) and the Faculty of Engineering at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven), located in the Dutch-speaking region of the country. At the EUA, the delegation gained valuable insights into the policies and practices surrounding digital transformation in higher education across the European Union. They also engaged in thorough research and discussions regarding the development process of the European Universities initiative. To further understand the practical implementation of digital transformation in European universities, the delegation visited KU Leuven, which is renowned for its long history and representation of the Dutch-speaking region. Their aim was to learn about the specific practices of digital transformation at the school level. Additionally, both universities explored potential collaborations, including the exchange of visiting scholars and cooperation in postgraduate programmes.


Delegation of the OUC visited Dublin City University

Delegation of the OUC visited National Resource Hub of Ireland

During their visit to Ireland, the delegation toured Dublin City University and the National Resource Hub of Ireland. At Dublin City University, they gained a comprehensive understanding of the establishment and history of the Age-Friendly University Global Network (AFU Global Network). Additionally, they engaged in preliminary talks about the potential involvement of the OUC (also known as the Seniors University of China, SUC) in this organisation. While at the National Resource Hub of Ireland, the delegation explored the hub's unique characteristics and learned why it was awarded the 2022 UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for the Use of ICT in Education. Both parties also discussed the possibilities of resource sharing.


Professor François Vellas presented to Fan Xianrui the charter of the International Association of Universities of the Third Age

During the delegation's visit to France, there were cordial exchanges and discussions with Professor François Vellas, the president of the International Association of Universities of the Third Age (IAUTA). The delegation gained valuable insights into the IAUTA's organisational structure, the process for applying for membership, its global influence, and various international cooperation projects. As an invited guest, Fan Xianrui attended the inauguration of a senior student class at Université Toulouse-I-Capitole and delivered a speech. Furthermore, President Vellas extended an invitation to the OUC (SUC) to join in the celebrations of the IAUTA's 50th anniversary in 2024.

Fan Xianrui presented the digital transformation journey and upcoming strategies of the OUC during her visits to various organisations. She also shared updates on the development of the SUC with pertinent institutions. This visit served to gather international best practices, potentially beneficial for OUC's digital transformation efforts, thus supporting the advancement of the SUC's construction.


Written by Hou Songyan; photographed by Wu Xinghua, OUC