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More students studying Chinese and Japanese

30 December 2005, 12:15

The current level of interest in China as an economic and political superpower has had a knock-on effect on numbers of students studying Chinese.

The current level of interest in China as an economic and political superpower has had a knock-on effect on numbers of students studying Chinese. The degree in Chinese offered by Leiden University has seen a strong rise in enrolments. This year, 74 students enrolled on the programme, compared to less than 40 last year.

The course in Japanese also saw a similar rise, from 39 students last year to 77 this year. This rise is quite remarkable, especially because only a year ago the university had announced swingeing cuts in ‘niche programmes’ such as Chinese. The number of teachers was reduced and there seemed little interest from the Ministry of Education in expanding the programme. So are the recognition problems for Chinese studies now consigned to history?

“We don’t know what will happen in the long term,” explains a spokesperson from Leiden University. “Interest in these studies is a good thing and, in our opinion, justified. But it is unclear whether the trend will last. Funding and recognition are always one step behind practical reality.” For the time being, practical requirements caused by increased student numbers are being solved with temporary staff and student teachers.

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