BIT Story 9 | In the spring breeze, marching forward to the world
In 1978, the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Party made a historic decision to shift the work center to economic construction to implement reform and opening up.
In this context, Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) earnestly implemented the spirit of the central government and actively
implemented the "five historical shifts."
One of shift is the transition from "closed type" to "open type",
which has also become the starting point for BIT’s internationalization.
In the spring breeze of reform and opening up, BIT has taken a step towards the world
In 2018, in order to rescue and excavate BIT’s valuable history materials, the Propaganda Department of the Party Committee of BIT organized forces to launch the "oral history" collection project and entrusted the library to implement it. Over the past two years, the collection project has recorded and saved 80 retired teachers’ oral history data for 15,058 minutes, forming 1.6 million words of written data. To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the establishment of Beijing Institute of Technology, through combining results of the "Oral History" collection, carefully planning and producing, the Propaganda Department of the Party Committee and the library launched the "BIT Story" series. We hope that the majority of teachers, students and alumni can draw strength from the wonderful stories, inherit the red gene, and work hard to build a world-class university with Chinese characteristics!
"BIT Story" Issue 9
He Zhongyi: 1978, marching into the world
——Beijing Institute of Technology's international development road
Narrator: He Zhongyi
Professor of Beijing Institute of Technology
Former Director of International Affairs
In 1978, He Zhongyi, a teacher in the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Section of the Basic Department of Beijing Institute of Technology, received a "special" task—— to participate in the reception of an American engineering education delegation that will visit Beijing Institute of Technology. This is also the first foreign delegation to visit the school since the reform and opening up, and BIT attached great importance to it. He Zhongyi, who graduated in English major, was selected to participate in the reception work and acted as the interpreter for the delegation.
On September 12, 1978, after the reform and opening up, BIT received the first foreign delegation—the American Engineering Education Delegation
In the reception work, He Zhongyi played his professional expertise and successfully completed this task. After that, he participated in BIT's international exchange work and became a witness of BIT's move to the world stage.
" Inviting in" and "Sending out"
“BIT’s international exchanges and cooperation have made great strides from the very beginning.” In He Zhongyi’s memory, BIT has made great efforts in international exchanges. In the two or three years from 1978 to 1980, he participated in receiving dozens of foreign affairs activities, with visitors in forms of delegations as well as experts and scholars.
With the deepening of reform and opening up, International Affairs of BIT also continues to develop. In 1978, Beijing Institute of Technology established the Foreign Affairs Office (deputy divisional office), which was subordinate to the President’s Office. Pan Hengsheng was the first director of the Foreign Affairs Office. The two staff in the office were Niu Zhizheng and Gong Jianguo, and He Zhongyi become the fourth member afterwards. " Inviting in" and "Sending out" was the main work of the Foreign Affairs Office at that time, and He Zhongyi was specifically responsible for the "inviting in" work.
Nowadays, walking on the campus of Beijing Institute of Technology, you can see foreign teachers and students from different countries everywhere. The globalized learning and living atmosphere has long been a daily life on campus. But for the Beijing Institute of Technology, which had just started to run internationally at that time, even if it was to find foreign teachers for the newly established undergraduate major of English, it was difficult for He Zhongyi, who was in charge of "inviting in". In 1978, in order to meet the demand for foreign language talents in the reform and opening up, BIT applied to the Ministry of Education for the establishment of an English undergraduate major, which was officially included in the enrollment plan after approval. Foreign teachers are indispensable to build a high-level foreign language major, which has also become a "compulsory course" for the BIT’s internationalization.
"Where to find? How to find?" "Can foreign teachers adapt to BIT’s local environment?" "Can the professional development meet the personal development of foreign teachers?" A series of questions followed. Through repeated communication and research with the Department of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, teaching and research departments, etc., the direction of hiring foreign teachers has been determined. Subsequently, after many investigations and comparisons, in 1979, Ms. Catherine Wang from the United States became the first foreign teacher hired by the Beijing Institute of Technology after the reform and opening up. As the wife of a Chinese-American expert, she has an understanding and affection for China, and her business level is very good. In one year, her teaching had been widely recognized by BIT and her classmates, and the first success of "inviting in" work has been achieved. Soon, the second, third...more and more foreign experts came to the school, from the initial teaching of language at the school, to later participating in the teaching and research of various majors and disciplines, and they made great contributions. BIT's door to the world gradually opened.
Catherine Wang, the first foreign teacher of BIT (sixth from right in the first row), taking a group photo with some foreign language teachers and English majors of grade 1978
In the 1980s and 1990s, facing the world, BIT hired 46 overseas experts as part-time professors, employed 82 foreign teachers for long-term work, and invited more than 2,000 people for short-term lectures and exchanges, which has laid a good foundation for the school to start an international school.
At the same time, BIT's step of "sending out" is also increasing. During this period, in order to learn advanced knowledge and experience overseas, the party and the state began to send personnel to study abroad, mainly in three forms: " government-sponsored oversea education", " corporation-sponsored oversea education " and "self-funded overseas education". In this context, BIT has also begun to actively organize teachers to study abroad.
"In the three years of 1978, 1979, and 1980, BIT sent nearly 30 teachers to study abroad." The United States, Russia, Japan... During this period, school teachers also ushered in more and more opportunities for exchanges and learning abroad. Many of the teachers who studied abroad later grew into backbones in teaching and research in various subject areas. From 1978 to 1999, the school has successively sent more than 2,000 visiting or overseas teachers to 20 countries or regions, which not only effectively promoted the improvement of teaching and scientific research, but also established the academic leadership in some disciplines and expanded BIT’s International influence.
Joining the "Circle of Friends" as a world university
During the reform and opening-up period, with the in-depth development of international exchanges, BIT's international exchange work has become more abundant and diversified. The establishment cooperation between universities is an important one. In 1981, Beijing Institute of Technology and California State University，Northridge, established the first inter-university cooperative relationship.
"The specific person involved is Professor Zhou Chuanjun, a professor in the Department of Physics at California State University，Northridge. His uncle Zhou Lunqi is the director of the Department One of Beijing Institute of Technology." To achieve this cooperation, in 1981, California State University，Northridge, sent a delegation of nearly 20 people led by the president and attended by the deans of the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering. Among them were many Chinese professors who were very friendly to China. They played a positive role in promoting the final cooperation between both universities. In the inter-university cooperation, California State University，Northridge, donated a lot of books and materials to BIT, and both universities have exchanged personnel on many occasions.
After this successful inter-school cooperation, the school has also opened a new chapter in the global-oriented and actively establishing inter-school cooperation with universities around the world and overseas. From the reform and opening up to the beginning of the new millennium, the school has successively signed agreements with 45 universities in more than 20 countries on 6 continents and Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, establishing inter-university cooperation, and carrying out cooperation in personnel exchanges, student training and scientific research projects.
In June 1985, in order to meet the ever-increasing need for international education, BIT set the Foreign Affairs Office as a departmental level institute independently.
Welcome, international students
In the 1990s, with the continuous expansion of the scale and the continuous expansion of subject areas, BIT’s international exchange and cooperation work began to develop at a deeper level, and the leaders and various institutes within BIT continued to attach more importance to international exchange and cooperation.
"From 1978 to 1994, they were, in general, not considered international students, but only short-term students learning Chinese. At that time, I submitted a report and it was officially approved, saying that foreign students were agreed to be admitted by Beijing Institute of Technology." In 1995, Beijing Institute of Technology officially began to recruit foreign students, which also marked a major breakthrough in the its internationalization. Along with the country’s formalization of the management of international students, in 1997, Beijing Institute of Technology successfully passed the review of the Beijing Municipal Education Commission, Beijing Municipal Foreign Affairs Office, and Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, and was allowed to accept foreign students. BIT obtained the "Certificate of Colleges and Universities Accepting Foreign Students" issued by the Beijing Municipal Education Commission. The 9 categories of foreign students allowed to be admitted are: university undergraduates, junior college students, postgraduates, doctoral students, general advanced students, senior scholars, research scholars, language students, short-term students. In May 1998, BIT established an International Student Center.
In 1991, the Chinese class of Hokkaido University, Japan, who came to BIT to study, took a group photo in front of the main building
Facing the world, the launch and full development of the training of international students not only rapidly expanded BIT’s international influence, but also strongly promoted the improvement of the BIT’s level of international schooling.
Cooperation in running schools, a new leap
"Our school started for the cooperation of formal education early." In February 1993, the "China Education Reform and Development Program" proposed for the first time "international cooperation in running schools within the scope of relevant national laws and regulations." Beijing Institute of Technology responded quickly. Since 1995, it has successively opened Sino-German MBA classes, Sino-British electronic undergraduate classes, and Sino-British international business master classes. These programs provide students with a combination of domestic and foreign training models. For example, the Sino-German MBA class requires students to study in BIT for 2.5 years and half a year in Germany, and the Sino-British electronic undergraduate class requires two years of study in BIT and one year in the UK. This "X+Y" mode has innovated the BIT’s talent training model and also provided rich experience for the subsequent international cooperation in running schools.
In 1993, the China-Japan OA International Conference held by BIT and the Japan Office Automation Society
In 1995, the opening ceremony of the Sino-German MBA class of BIT was held
"Through these international conferences, BIT teachers can publish papers, and people from abroad come to China to participate in exchanges, which further expands the relationship, especially cooperation in scientific research," said He Zhongyi. In addition to cooperation in running schools, extensive and in-depth international exchanges and cooperation also provide teachers with high-level international scientific research and academic resources.
In 1999, the BIT’s foreign affairs office was renamed the International Affairs Office. In September 2006, BIT formally established the Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan offices, co-organizing with the International Affairs Office.
Entering the new century, facing the construction of a world-class university, BIT takes first-class international schooling ability as its objective. As of 2020, Beijing Institute of Technology has established 28 English teaching majors for undergraduate and graduate students, cooperative relations with 346 universities, and student exchange programs with 85 world-renowned universities, and dual degree programs for undergraduates with 12 famous universities. More than 42% of undergraduates go to overseas for study visits and graduation projects each year.
At present, BIT is actively promoting global cooperation in running schools, closely cooperating with world-class universities, continuously expanding its international platform, and establishing international academic journals, steadily promoting the construction of Shenzhen MSU-BIT University and Confucius Institutes. There are more than 2,560 international students in the school, and a multi-inclusive international community has been initially established.
Group photo of Chinese and foreign deans and teachers of the Confucius Institute in Lagos during the Spring Festival of 2019
"Under the correct policies of the central government and the correct leadership of BIT's party committee, BIT's international exchanges and cooperation will definitely develop faster and better than ever." Looking back on the years of struggle and seeing rapid development and progress of BIT, He Zhongyi is very pleased as the pioneer of international exchanges and cooperation for the older generation of BIT.
To building morality and cultivate people
To build first-class international school-running capabilities
BIT people are always on the road
Facing the future
To build a world-class university with Chinese characteristics
BIT people will always strive!