The University of Reading’s Institute of Education (IoE) gives great importance to international academic exchanges, and it has hosted academic visitors from different countries, including China. Ms. Hongqin Zhang, a lecturer at Shanxi University of Finance and Economics (in northern China), is one of them. Hongqin has been an academic visitor with us since January 2019 and will continue to do so till January next year. Her academic mentor here is Professor Carol Fuller.  If you see Hongqin around on our campus, please do say hi to her and make her feel welcome. 

My current research, funded by the China Scholarship Council, sets out to explore relationship (if any) between housing demands and ageing. Why then am I here at the IoE? This is because I intend to predominantly use qualitative methods for my research, and by chance, I attended Professor Fuller’s talk on qualitative methods at my university last year. As I learned a lot from her talk, I decided to apply to become an academic visitor at the IoE under Professor Fuller’s guidance.

So far, the IoE has offered me lots of excellent research skill development opportunities. For example, to broaden my knowledge of research methods, I have taken part in many training workshops, such as those on qualitative and quantitative research methods, and the NVivo class.

I have attended the IoE’s research lunchtime seminar events. On 23rd May, I even gave a presentation on my research as part of this seminar series and received lots of useful questions and suggestions from the audience.

I have also had opportunities to attend several seminars beyond the IoE, such as “Health Ageing Workshop”, “Gender Critical Feminism”, ”Sisters, Let’s talk”, “British Housing Crisis”, and ‘Who is a woman? And why it matters’ A conversation with two philosophers”. At these seminars, I got to network with other researchers who share similar research interests as mine.

On 20th May, I was also invited to attend the recent hearing of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility. It was a great honour to be able to attend the hearing to discuss the State of the Nation 2019 report. Many thanks to Professor Fuller for giving me such a wonderful opportunity to attend this event.

I would like to thank the China Scholarship Council and Shanxi University of Finance and Economics for giving me this wonderful opportunity. I would also particularly like to thank Professor Fuller for her support, and all the great research skill development opportunities that I have received from the IoE so far. Despite having been here for just six months, I found that my research horizon has already been broadened, my knowledge of research methods has been more refined, and I have already made lots of research progress under Professor Fuller’s guidance.