UCLan partner Guangdong University of Foreign Studies marks tenth anniversary of developing next generation of Chinese journalists
In a Far East city dubbed the world's manufacturing capital, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in 2005 sought to develop the next generation of Chinese journalists with a hint of red rose flair.
Graduates from the 10 intervening years gathered to toast one of UCLan’s pioneering overseas degree programmes. Last month, alumni celebrated a decade-long anniversary in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, in partnership with Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.
Legend Yiao Liang, 31, one of the first graduates of international journalism in 2008, said the course remained a valuable asset in his career. He is currently a reporter for the Yangcheng Evening News newspaper, with previous assignments including a trip to London ahead of the 2012 Olympics.
“I can say that if I didn’t come to UCLan, some of the valuable skills I have to gather news now, I wouldn’t have learned,” he said.
“The University at that time had the most modern approach to shape journalists, and is still number one.”
The course and venue, the Paddy Field, whose existence in the Chinese city has lasted almost as long as each other, saw almost 60 students past and present, gather to reminisce with old friends and share tips and insights with current second year students who will study in Preston from September.
It is great to see the former students and to hear that many of them are working in different areas of the media. We have newspaper and internet reporters, TV producers and reporters, photographers, and some working in PR.
Experienced journalist and broadcaster, Matt Horn, the Guangzhou course leader from the very beginning, said: "It is great to see the former students and to hear that many of them are working in different areas of the media. We have newspaper and internet reporters, TV producers and reporters, photographers, and some working in PR. Some could not come because of media commitments including one from the first cohort who is a fashion editor in Beijing and was covering Seoul Fashion Week in Korea.
"It is great to give the current year two students the chance to meet people who have completed the course, loved studying in Preston and can share their experiences.”
Horn’s work in Guangzhou and the province over the years was recognised by authorities with a double award, including the prestigious Guangdong International Friendship Award for his outstanding contribution to the development of the province, as well as receiving the MBE in 2013 for the development of journalism in China.
With discussion and observations news and current affairs shaping China and the wider world, the international journalism course has seen the impact of the country changing politically, economically, and socially.
From the 2008 Beijing Olympics, to a procession of leadership changes at the top of Chinese politics, and wider breakneck speed economic growth charting the nation's fortunes from the factory floor to shopping malls.
UCLan has allowed me to break down barriers to explore interesting ideas and stories and work in the field of work I like.
More recent graduates from the class of 2014 spoke fondly of their UCLan experiences.
Dani Yang, 24, said her studies equipped her and was ready to take the international experience of her degree to far flung places with her job at a state-owned enterprise in north east Africa, just one of many countries across the continent benefiting from billions of dollars in Chinese investment.
Phyllis Youngpei Li, also 24, remarked: “UCLan has given me the best tutors and best friends. I’ll always be grateful. I found my passion for journalism here.”
For Nolan Huang Xuanyang, he said “It’s great to be back” and to get a chance to meet the graduates who stepped into his shoes to exchange fresh ideas.
Highlighting his memorable moments of the course, the 23-year-old said: “UCLan has allowed me to break down barriers to explore interesting ideas and stories and work in the field of work I like. It has given me so many chances but not just in Guangzhou, but the environment in the UK because I met so many creative people.”
Huang, now studying for a master’s degree in art at City University in Hong Kong, said simply: “Progression is really important from the experiences you make.”
The current year two students all agreed it had made them even more determined to ensure they pass Year 2 and get on the plane to Preston in September.