"Reform has Made China Move More Towards Internationalisation. That is the Right Direction"
An interview with Wittenborg CEO, Maggie Feng, on what has changed for Chinese students coming to Europe in the 40+ years since China first introduced reforms which allowed private study abroad, has been widely published in the Chinese press.
The interview with Feng was posted on at least seven online media platforms on Tuesday. China is one of the top 3 sources for international students at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences.
“A private college in the Netherlands with a history of more than 30 years is headed by a Chinese woman,” the article kicks off. Wittenborg was founded in 1987 in Deventer.
It then narrates Feng’s journey starting in 2002 when she came to the Netherlands as a young exchange student from Beijing University of Technology. After meeting her husband, Peter Birdsall, who is the chair of the executive board, they acquired Wittenborg in 2008.
She recalls that, unlike today, it was a lot different for Chinese students back then. “Just making a phone call was terribly expensive. Today, the economic conditions of Chinese students have improved and the communication network is much better.
“At that time, the students more than often came to our school to learn to improve their English. Therefore, the school at that time was more like a language school. In many public universities at that time, international students’ personal needs outside the classroom were not managed. Since we acquired this school in 2008, we have made adjustments to our working methods, trying our best to prevent problems before they happen; for instance, by helping new students arrange accommodation, teaching them to use kitchen equipment, vacuum cleaners, etc., helping students understand the Dutch medical system, getting them to go to the city hall to register, and even accompanying new students to buy used bicycles.
“The self-confidence and language skills of Chinese students are significantly better than before! Therefore, from this perspective, reform and opening up have made China move toward internationalisation. This is the right direction!
“For example, many students are well-travelled and have wider knowledge. Chinese students still like to stick together, but they interact with international students a lot more and they can express themselves more courageously.”
by James Wittenborg
©Wittenborg University Press