Global Academics: Teaching in China
What is it like to be a Global Academic? Watch our video with Dr Mark Crowley to find out what it is like to teach in China.Transcript
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About this video
What is it like to be a Global Academic? Watch our video with Dr Mark Crowley to find out what it is like to teach in China.
Dr Mark Crowley is an Associate Professor of History and holds the distinguished Hubei Provincial ‘Chu Tian’ Research fellowship for the period 2014-2018 at the School of History, Wuhan University, China.
He obtained his BScEcon Hons in Politics and Modern History at Cardiff University, an MSt in Modern History at Oxford University and his PhD from the University of London’s Institute of Historical Research, where he held an Arts and Humanities Research Council Collaborative Doctoral Award with the British Postal Museum and Archive.
He has worked in China since March 2010 and at Wuhan University since March 2011.
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My name is Mark Crowley. I am an associate professor at Wuhan University in Central China. I spend about ten hours a week in the classroom. The rest of the time then is divided between administration and also some research. And I do spend more time on my research than I do on administration, even though I have been landed with the portfolio of admissions tutor for the postgraduate students. Which does at certain times of the year, take you completely away from your research
because it is very heavily administrative orientated. But typically I would say maybe I work about sixty hours a week. The working day in a Chinese university is especially long. Classes can begin at eight o’clock in the morning and one of my classes next term will also finish at nine o’clock at night. One of the things that you find is that in China if you want to progress to a higher level of position in a university
the requirement levels are certainly different there. It is judged completely in China by publications. And they do set a very ambitious target for every academic to produce two peer reviews and journal articles per year. Which is a huge task because it doesn’t sound a lot but when you consider the fact that journals normally are very good.
A quality journal only has an acceptance rate of about 20%. You have to go through a lot of rejections before you even get one acceptance. They actually give you a performance related bonus on top of your salary if you manage to achieve that. So, for example, if you manage to publish one of these articles the bonus they will give you on top is about ten thousand Chinese RMB, which if you translate that back into pounds is about a thousand pounds bonus on top of your salary.
It is down to you as an individual what you want. They do set that target of two publications of articles per year, however, it is important to note that if you fail to do that you won’t get fired or anything. So there are people who will say well I don’t care about that target, nothing terrible is going to happen to me if I fail to achieve it. You could just feasibly say oh I’m just going to do my teaching and that is it. But then if you do have an ambition to improve and to get a better job it is quite demanding.
And I think the targets they do set, as ambitious and as pressurised as they are, do actually in the long term help you with your career development. Because if you have that as something that you are trying to work towards, it is certainly a good working plan for you to build up your publications. I think for somebody who is, like me, using China as this opportunity to build a platform to hopefully come back to the UK at some point in the future. It certainly does motivate me.
When I went for my post-doctoral research fellowship that was a little bit different. So if anybody did, for example, get a post-doctoral research fellowship from Britain to go to China, I think you would need to be prepared for the fact that the nature of the fellowship is completely different in China for you as a foreigner, than it would be if you remained here in the UK and did that sort of scheme. When I became a member of the history department at Wuhan in 2011, the head of department
was very excited, because what he said was our students don’t now have to go to the English department and do a credit in English writing. They can actually study history through the medium of English, and that will get them their English credit and also their history credit in one.
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