Global Academics: The Talent Program in China
What is it like to be a Global Academic? Watch our video with Dr Mark Crowley to find out about the Talent Program in China.Transcript
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About this video
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. The talent programme was created by the Ministry of Education in China. I don’t know when exactly but I think it is a relatively new thing, over the last four or five years. And the purpose of it is to actually recruit younger scholars to produce research of high quality that will gain an international reputation for the
University and the department specifically. What they do is they believe that the best way for that to be achieved is to get people who are at the cutting edge of their research. A lot of Chinese universities are now seeing that the future lies in collaborating with UK partners. Either through the provision of courses or through the exchange of staff. And certainly the long term agenda for them is to put more Chinese
universities into the Ivy League and into the international list of world renowned universities. And one of the things that they are focusing on, particularly through the scheme that I am part of, is recruiting foreign academics to come in to open their perspectives up to the methods by which this could potentially be achieved. But, of course, for you personally, as a young scholar, the more you publish, the more
chance that you will then get of improving your career progression. So really it is a two way street. The university will benefit, and also you as a scholar will benefit too. And the main incentive that they do provide for you as a young researcher is the opportunity of knowing that if you publish something that is regarded to be of high quality, based on the measurement of the research power,
then you will get an additional financial bonus at the end of the year for it. I think for a professor, you can go to China on this programme and do your research and teach in a Chinese university, for which you get a house provided as part of your contract, and the salary of about £100,000. Which of course if you make that sort of money in China, based on the fact that the cost of living there is significantly lower than
it is here in the UK, it does represent a very significant amount of money. So what we see is in the two years since I have started the programme, it has really expanded from what it was originally, which was only for early career researchers, right now it goes through to mid-career scholars and also professors. And particularly for the professors and the mid-career researchers, there is a big focus on trying to recruit foreign staff to come from overseas universities to come over and use the
opportunity to publish and to boost the reputation of the university in that way. One of the things that you do find is if you work for a university that has a lot of money you will get some other perks that are certainly not well publicised. So, for example, Wuhan University where I work now, is overall number eight in China. Which is very good because there is over 3,000 universities there.
And because of that ranking, it gets a significant amount of money from the Beijing Ministry of Education, in recognition of their research achievements. So what you get is that if a university does have this significant pot of money, what they will do is they will try to look after their staff in some kind of way. So for me, one of the things that they did which was particularly generous I thought, was that the university bought a large site about
15 minutes’ drive away from the university. And built apartments on that site. And what they offered to us, as members of staff, was the opportunity to buy these apartments at half the market value. So this is what I have done. If I tell my department that I want to go to a significant conference in the UK or in the US I will get funding through the scheme that I am part of, as part of my research professorship.
And they will block grant me, maybe £1,000 or £1,500 to get the flight, tickets and pay for the hotel and conference registration fee. Which really does help. That has been really helpful in the sense that then I can maintain contact with American colleagues, British colleagues and certainly use that as a way of co-authoring articles and books.
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