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  5. Longitudinal impact of visiting scholarships on the professional practice of scholars from China

Longitudinal impact of visiting scholarships on the professional practice of scholars from China

Project leader(s): 
Mark Endean and Daphne Chang

Since the year 2000, in excess of a dozen academics and support staff from Chinese universities have worked for a period at the OU as ‘visiting scholars’. These scholarships have generally been at the request of the visitor, with the visitor’s objectives shaped and supported by staff at the OU acting as supervisors. To our knowledge, little effort has been made systematically to establish the extent to which those objectives were met and even less is known about how the scholar’s working practices altered or evolved as a direct outcome of their visit.

The scholarship programme has a low profile within the University and is resourced at a very low level. There is no overall management of the programme and visits are generally arranged ad hoc. It is not clear what benefit the programme offers to visitors or to the University. Most visitors see a scholarship as an opportunity to learn how the OU goes about a particular aspect of its work as one of the World leaders in distance learning, in order to transfer that knowledge back into their own context.

This study aims to investigate and document a number of longitudinal case histories of Chinese visiting scholars with the explicit objectives of refining, strengthening and promoting the scholarship programme to transform it into an important University asset.

Developing these case histories will require extensive background documentary research complemented by interviews not just with the scholars but with their former OU supervisors and with their colleagues and collaborators in their home environment.

While the goal is a set of case histories, the investigators also propose attempting to engage senior managers in the University to begin a process of developing a clearer focus to the scholarship programme in order better to engage potential scholars and to increase the programme’s profile within the University.