Sally Ellis

East Meets West…


The cultural difficulties of the increasing partnerships between universities across the globe

We’ve been talking for the past few months about the increasing globalisation of universities across the globe. Many institutions are setting up campuses and creating partnerships with their counterparts on the other side of the world, to much success.

Yet, for all the benefits, there have been some difficulties stemming from the cultural difference between East and West.

Yale and Peking Universities set up a Beijing based undergraduate program, but Yale found, much to its chagrin, that there was a culture of flagrant plagiarism amongst the students. 

The plagiarism problem, which appears to be widely accepted by Chinese academics, is one which has had a great deal of press over the years and whilst Yale must have known about it prior to commencing the program, when confronted with the day to day realities of it, many academics found it difficult to reconcile with their own culture of learning.  This, among other reasons caused Yale to pull out of the program last July. 

But, it’s not only Americans that have had issues dealing with the cultural divergences, one Japanese professor recently spoke out about the change in character of many native students, following a semester in an American university. Often ‘ administrative staff complain that returnees talk to them as equals without using deferential Japanese while instructing them how things are run better in the US.’

Yet his opinion is largely positive when it comes to the benefits of studying in a different culture.  It allows students to appreciate the benefits gained from a university education, rather than sitting passively as many native students are prone to; following time in America they are more willing to engage and contribute to classrooms, making for more interesting and worthwhile lectures.

There are clearly always going to be difficulties when converging learning styles and cultures come together, and it seems that there is a great deal that all cultures could learn from each other.  Trying to write an article about the negative points of this increasing globalisation is incredibly difficult which just goes to show how many benefits there are… the only fear is that the learning styles all become carbon copies of each other… but there doesn’t seem to be any  threat of that for a long time!


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Sally Ellis

Sally Ellis

Marketing Communications Executive at UNIT4 Group.

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