The scale of things to come: a comparison of the campuses of Coventry and Zhejiang University

The first thing that struck me about this campus was the sheer scale of it. The campus alone could be the same size as the centre of Coventry. Set in the heart of the educational district, it is an endless sea of concrete, shrouded by the cloying smog. These are just some of the things that are alien to me. Writes James Richardson…

Unlike Coventry, all the university buildings are enclosed within one area, rather than being spread around the city. Dormitories, restaurants, shops, teaching buildings and sports facilities are all intermingled in one enormous complex. With over 9,000 full time students, to us this is an enormous university but, in the great scheme of Chinese higher education, it is not exceptionally large (it is in fact one of the smallest campuses in Hangzhou).

The library is the really astonishing thing, set over 9 floors, covering 21,000 square meters and containing over 900,000 paper documents, compared to Coventry’s piffling 4 stories and 350,000 paper documents, it puts the British university somewhat in the shade. Online, Xiasha’s library has over 460,000 electronic resources at its disposal. As I said, the scale is very impressive; almost daunting.

Being a media university, you would imagine that they have an impressive array of media facilities but this would be an understatement, having their own Media Tower, covering 22 floors and containing 17 broadcasting studios (compared to Coventry’s two) and running their own television channel: XGTV which broadcasts news and the daily life of students; all of which is produced by the students.

All in all, there are twenty universities and colleges in Hangzhou, encompassing approximately 250,000 students whereas the West Midlands in the UK only has approximately 9 universities educating approximately 164,000 students. It must be remembered, however, that there are 20 universities IN ONE CITY compared to nine in an entire geographical area in the UK.

Another difference between the two institutions is the focus of the courses. ZUMC concentrates on a purely media curriculum whereas Coventry has a far wider range of courses. The differences between the two are many and varied and it is nothing like any university I have seen before, changing my idea of what higher education can achieve; the scale and focus of the place is simply mind-blowing.

The vast campus of Zhejiang University.

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Filed under China Trip 2011

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