Thursday, February 9, 2012

Qiuyuan Chen: Indiana University – Peking University Staff Exchange Program

Qiuyuan Chen, from the Graduate School at Peking University in Beijing, China,
visited the IU campus in the month of January. She was part of
a staff exchange program between IU and PKU.
This January, 2012, the Indiana University Graduate School hosted a Chinese colleague through a staff exchange program between IU and the Graduate School at Peking University (PKU) in Beijing, China. Qiuyuan Chen spent the month meeting with her counterparts at the IU Graduate School, Office of the Registrar and other academic and administrative units.

The lake and water tower in Peking University.
The stone fish in the foreground is a remnant from
the Old Summer Palace just north of the campus.
“I think the biggest difference [between IU and PKU Graduate Schools] is the administrative system. IU is highly decentralized and we [PKU] are very centralized. For us, it’s an office-oriented system, but here it is position-oriented. I think it is easier for us to do teamwork and here literally there is only one person in charge of one field of work and people here are more specialized for that reason. For us, it’s easier to transfer from one office [position] to another,” Chen said.

“Some of the ordinary processes are similar,” she said, "and there are many common elements between our universities.”

For example, PKU and IU have about the same number of students and both universities have a strong focus on the arts, languages and humanities as well as the natural and social sciences. To give a localized comparison, if PKU is like IU, then TsingHua University, next door to PKU in Beijing, is like Purdue.

The PKU Graduate School is located in Red Building No. 2.
The PKU campus was originally in a hutong area in downtown
Beijing, but in the 1950s it moved to an old palace grounds in the
northwest part of Beijing. The Graduate School is located in one
of the traditional style buildings from that palace.
“We also seem to have similar problems,” Chen said. “Students have a lot of pressure surrounding their dissertations both here and in China, especially the doctoral students. I spoke with an IU graduate student who attended PKU for her undergraduate degree, and she said it can be difficult to get the desired job after finishing a PhD because doctoral students want the invested time and money in their education to be returned. Students in China have the same career pressures.”

“These days graduate educators in China are paying more attention to quality rather than just quantity,” Chen said.

“I believe that PKU and IU will discover they have a lot they can learn from one other. The exchange program is a good way to help us to communicate, and itself is a good example of graduate education internationalization as well.”

Media Contact: Erika Lee,