Wetenschap - 15 november 2001

Chinese minister praises students for studying here

Chinese minister praises students for studying here

The Chinese minister of agriculture Qingling Du visited Wageningen UR last Thursday 8 November. After a tour around the university and institutes, he discussed agriculture and education with Chinese students here in Wageningen.

Minister Du still managed to smile when he met about thirty Chinese students at the Education building of Wageningen University after an exhausting tour around Wageningen UR. He made the effort to shake hands with every one of them. PhD and MSc students gave a brief presentation on the educational system and their feelings about Wageningen University to the minister.

In a discussion in Chinese he asked the students how it is to study in Wageningen and commented on the need to improve agriculture in China. The minister said the reason for his visit to the Netherlands, with other members of his ministry, is to learn more about the intensive production system which characterises Dutch agriculture. He said it is important for Chinese students to study in Wageningen where they can acquire advanced agricultural knowledge, which they can then bring back to largely rural China. He thanked the Chinese students on behalf of the Chinese government and the people of China for studying in Wageningen. He said that especially more knowledge of agricultural technology, genetic engineering and management and marketing in agriculture is still desperately needed in China.

An MSc student praised the educational facilities including Internet, information retrieval and laboratory facilities in Wageningen. Minister Du commented on that, saying that the Chinese agricultural educational system needs more modern equipment and that the government is investing in this. Agricultural universities and institutions in China are in the process of reform towards better serving the needs of Chinese farmers, who unlike Dutch farmers are mostly small-scale farmers. To indicate the difference in scale, the minister mentioned that China has about fifty agricultural universities and over 900 million farmers.

Ling Qin, a Chinese postdoc working in the laboratory of Nematology, commented that the visit of the minister highlighted the difference in the reputation of Wageningen University within and outside the Netherlands. "Outside Holland, Wageningen University is a recognized centre of excellent research, not necessarily restricted to agriculture only. Within Holland, to all the people I have talked to, Wageningen University is still the Landbouw Hogeschool, which I find very weird, considering how long Wageningen has had university status."

Joris Tielens, with thanks to Zhenghong Chen for translation.

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