Eighty students from a joint programme between EIT | Te Pūkenga and Qi Lu University of Technology (QLUT) in China, recently graduated despite enduring COVID-19 lockdowns for three of the four years of study.
The 2019 student cohort graduated with Qi Lu’s Bachelor of Brewing Engineering (Wine Science) at a ceremony in May attended by representatives from EIT | Te Pūkenga. This is the first graduation New Zealand staff (kaimahi) have been able to attend in four years. Qi Lu University is in Jinan city situated in the heart of Shandong province, one of China’s premier wine growing regions.
The EIT| Te Pūkenga School of Viticulture and Wine Science has been in collaboration with Qi Lu since 2015 and EIT teaching in China started in 2017. The Qi Lu students are taught eleven wine science courses by EIT |Te Pūkenga kaimahi (staff) as part of their Chinese degree.
This graduation is particularly significant, because the cohort experienced COVID-19 lockdowns in their homes and on campus during three years of their four-year programme.
Sue Blackmore, the EIT |Te Pūkenga Head of School for Viticulture and Wine Science, said: “The New Zealand kaimahi (staff) are pleased to return to China after three years of online interaction. The personal relationships between the NZ staff, Chinese students and staff is vital to the collaboration.”
“ EIT staff had to respond quickly in 2021, switching to online study with support from their Qi Lu co-teachers for the practical experiences of making and analysing wine and wine sensory classes.”
Sue acknowledged the joint teams that have made the programme successful and wished the graduates success for their future careers.
The ceremony was a formal but warm celebration of the hard work of the eighty graduates, with many families attending the graduation. It was led by Qi Lu Vice Director Yongbo Liu, who noted that this was the first international cooperative programme in this field approved in China.
The prize for academic excellence went to Yifei Cai awarded by EIT | Te Pūkenga programme coordinator Carolyn Russell. Yifei has been accepted into the Graduate Medical Sciences (GMS) programme at the Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, Massachusetts, USA, and will begin her Masters in Science-Nutrition in August this year.
Elise Montgomery, who was in residence at Qi Lu teaching a later cohort of students, was also able to attend the graduation and spoke on behalf of the teachers of both institutes in wishing the best for these students and acknowledging the difficulties they experienced through the pandemic years.
Relationships between EIT | Te Pūkenga and Qi Lu kaimahi and ākonga have formed and friendships have developed that will be everlasting.
In addition to the joint education programme Qi Lu students have the opportunity to complete a NZ qualification – the Bachelor of Wine Science delivered at EIT |Te Pūkenga in Hawke’s Bay. On completion of two years of study in China followed by two years of study in NZ, these students achieve a double degree, the EIT |Te Pūkenga Bachelor of Wine Science and Qi Lu’s Bachelor of Brewing Engineering.
There is also effective collaboration between the kaimahi of the two institutions ranging from EIT | Te Pūkenga assisting Qi Lu teachers with English research papers to plans for joint Wine Sensory and Chemistry research. During the visit there was opportunity to talk with students interested in this study pathway.
The graduates of the 2023 Graduation Ceremony were the fifth cohort to complete their qualification. The joint education programme has been so successful that a five year extension has been signed by the two institutes, so that in total ten cohorts will complete the programme by 2027.