All entries for Monday 05 March 2007

March 05, 2007

Books I Read in China 2007

MDW (see my blog) bought me this for my birthday – don’t ask, a Gentleman never tells – I’m trying to become a half decent archer you see AND I am now in China, so it seemed an appropriate book to bring. It has the added advantage for the traveller of being small/short at only 100 pages. I just finished it this morning in Beijing.

If you are interested in mysticism, Tai Chi or in Buddhist philosophy, or would like to know how to improve your sporting concentration and performance than this could be for you. Suprisingly for me, the book was written by a German, between the wars, and translated into English in 1953.

If you are an archer looking for some practical tips then you may find this frustrating. However, when I think about some of the top archers I’ve seen/know then perhaps there is something in it, even though they may not recognise the lessons of Herr Doktor Herrigel’s Zen Master, they do practice some of the art.

Beijing is really BIG

I just arrived at the InterContinental hotel in Chongqing after a flight from Beijing. There was a ROEWE on display at Beijing International Airport – thats the Chinese owned and built old Rover 75 with some styling mods and a new badge – Euphemia said she didn’t really like it. Its 1am so everything is pretty quiet, I’ll find out tomorrow what Chongqing is like and report.

Well, the meal on Sunday evening was delicious, a Cantonese style meal at Lei Garden Restaurant Dongcheng District.
Lei Garden (Beijing)
Lei Garden is a chain with outlets in Hong Kong, Guangzhou (Canton) and Singapore. If these outlets are anywhere near as good as the Beijing one then I can recommend them, not cheap perhaps but worth it. Afterwards we took a walk – it was FREEEEEZING. It was FREEEZING again this morning when I took a short walk.

Most important things I’ve learnt about Beijing
  1. Its Big;
  2. No, you’re not reading closely enough, its really big;
  3. No, I mean MASSIVE;
  4. About 80 million people live there;
  5. Don’t try and count the number of high rise building sites
  6. about half the World’s tower cranes live here
  7. the other half are on their way
  8. When its cold, its FREEEZING
  9. When the air is clear you can see the mountains to the North
  10. China only has one Great Wall
  11. It might pis* a Chinese person off if you mention that the UK has two
  12. Did I mention that Beijing is really big?

I learnt yet more about the agency situation in China, are you ready to be informed?

  • Most prospective students wishing to study overseas use an agent who helps them with their application forms, checks out the entry requirement, identifies suitable universities, colleges and schools (in the English speaking World) and organises visas.
  • Agents earn their money by getting a commission from the target universities – this can be between 10 and 20% of the fees. They used to charge the students but severe competition means that students now often get the service for free.
  • Only the top universities don’t use agents (Oxbridge and Ivy League) those that don’t give a commission, suprise, suprise, don’t get many referrals.
  • Guess how much Warwick pays per student (CLUE: anything divided by infinity). Why? ‘cos we are deluded about our worth in the eyes of students and don’t understand their point of view.
  • These agents aren’t small scale operations. The one I visited today occupies two floors of an office block, is stuffed full of people answering phones, teaching English for IELTS, processing applications. The shelves are stacked with prospectusses from hundreds of institutions. They are commercially aware, not patsies and the larger ones have offices in many cities.
  • If you don’t find a way to engage an agent on your behalf, then don’t expect a lot of Chinese students.
  • Most Chinese students aren’t ready or willing to apply direct (on-line) so it is not easy to bypass the agency system. If you think that your on-line applications rate is good, don’t be fooled, there are a lot more students out there that you just ain’t seeing.

*PRIDE COMES BEFORE A FALL *- Don’t be proud, the incremental cost of each student is minimal compared with the fixed costs of running an academic department (unless you have high lab costs). It is better to pay an agency fee than forego the revenue, unless you are a deluded moron, a greedy central administration, or have some nefarious ulterior motive (work it out).

Finally, did I mention that Beijing is really BIG ?

March 2007

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