Hanban releases funds for sinology

Updated: 2012-11-04 14:15

By Luo Wangshu (China Daily)

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Confucius Institute Headquarters, also known as Hanban, announced on Saturday that it will be providing funding to international graduate students and young sinology scholars to conduct researches and study in humanity fields in China.

The details were outlined in the Confucius China Study Plan, which was presented at the Third World Conference on Sinology at Renmin University of China in Beijing.

"The plan aims to support young scholars from around the world to enhance the level of academic research and foster a new generation of young sinologist and experts in China studies," said Xu Lin, head of Hanban.

In August, Xinhua reported that under the plan, Hanban will award a total of 50 million yuan ($8.01 million).

The money will be distributed to six programs, including those who plan to pursue a PhD degree in Chinese universities, and short-term exchange students and visitors. Part of the funds will also be awarded as international conference and publication grants.

Generally, to be eligible, applicants to China's programs should be younger than 40 years old, and have a foreign passport.

Each successful applicant for PhD programs, both in China and joint projects, as well as the visiting scholars program, will be awarded up to 200,000 yuan, covering tuition fee in China, research fund, living stipend, health and accident insurance in China, expense for one conference and round-trip international transportation.

Among the first group of 14 Chinese universities accepting PhD students include Peking University, Renmin University of China and Beijing Normal University.

Xu estimated that the first group of PhD students will begin their study in Chinese universities in the fall of 2013.

Details of the plan and application process will be released on Hanban's official website in a week.

"Through this program, we hope to nurture, or help to nurture academic-centered students, the next generation sinologists. Confucius Institutes are not only teaching students to say 'hello', brew tea, or sing Chinese songs, but attempt to convey Chinese profound cultures to the world," said Xu.

Yao Xinzhong, professor of King's College London in the UK agreed with Xu. He also pointed out the shortage of sinologists in recent years.

"In the past, almost every university in the UK has a sinologist, but now I can feel that the number of sinologists in humanity studies such as literature and philosophy has rapidly decreased, or has moved to applied subjects, such as economics," said Yao, adding that the foundation of the applied subjects are humanity studies.

Another academia who agreed that there was a shortage of sinologists overseas was Liu Lening, professor from Columbia University in the United States.

A few sinologists have raised concerns about Hanban's plan. Barbara Mittler, a professor from University of Heidelberg in Germany, expressed her concerns about the publishing program. She said high reputation publishers will not compromise because of the grants, adding that publishers will select and screen publications closely before they commit.

Meanwhile, Fredrik Fallman, a senior research fellow from the City University of Hong Kong, said the quality of the PhDs should be the main focus, not the quantity.