Recently Maynooth University joined an international trend by opening a Maynooth College of Engineering in Fuzhou, on the east coast of China. It will offer Chinese students courses in computer science, engineering, robotics and web programming with the first 300 students graduating in 2023.
It is not Maynooth’s first contact with China, one hundred year ago Maynooth proudly gave birth to the Maynooth Mission to China. In its name, hundreds of Irish men and women went to that war-torn county between 1920 and 1954. They worked with the poorest until the early 1950s when all foreigner were expelled. The graves of some of those Irish missionaries remain there.
The university continues this tradition in a new form. It states, ‘The partnership will prove to be a powerful model of third-level internationalisation, one in which we engage fully with and learn from the local culture and local academic environment.’
The intention to learn from the Chinese experience in education and culture is to be praised. A number of other Western universities have found that continuing to work in China depends of self-censorship with regard to matters that might offend the government. They have had to cancel talks and visits from individuals not approved by the authorities. However, as the Maynooth college specialises in engineering it is unlikely to experience any such problems.