This far-reaching collaboration will include international conferences, exchange programmes for lecturers and students as well as joint research projects. In the Hanns-Seidel Foundation, the universities have gained a partner with more than 30 years’ experience in successfully establishing and managing international co-operative education partnerships in China. 'With this trilateral collaboration, we aim to establish an international platform for comparative country-by-country research into good education practices', said the Vice President for International Relations of the University of Passau. This partnership is another opportunity to establish a vibrant long-term intercultural education and research exchange partnership; moreover, for the University of Passau it provides the benefit of sharpening its international profile in the area of teacher education. 'In the long run, this co-operative partnership will have the very welcome side-effect of enhancing Passau's expertise on China while helping to refine and further develop the German Studies department at ZISU', Ursula Reutner said.
The intensified co-operation between the two universities is expected to be particularly beneficial for the students enrolled in the teacher education programmes of the University of Passau, who will be able to complete their practice teaching requirement at selected Chinese model schools. 'Teaching at these schools is a far cry from the "chalk-and-talk" method of teaching,' said a clearly impressed Ursula Reutner, who visited a number of schools during her visit to China, adding: 'instead they offer interactive classroom teaching in small groups and using state-of-the-art infrastructure, including in-house golf, ballet studios and even 3-D cinemas.'
As an élite institution, the Chinese Ministry of Education has given ZISU the task of professionalising teacher education. The university is breaking new ground in this field and the concepts developed and tested at ZISU will have a direct impact on the entire education landscape in all of China. Since 2012, the University of Passau and ZISU have developed initial collaborative structures in co-operation with the Hanns-Seidel Foundation, which have proven very successful. In Spring 2016, a delegation from Passau's Teacher Education Centre visited ZISU and held lectures on standards in teacher education: this has given rise to great interest on the Chinese side to introduce the Passau standards and test them in a pilot project.