Shanghai Customs College opens to the world

27 February 2020
By YE Zhengqing, International Cooperation Department, Shanghai Customs College

Shanghai Customs College (SCC) was founded in 1953 to provide training in Customs technique and management to the staff of the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China. In March 2007, with the approval of the Ministry of Education, the SCC became an institution of higher learning and opened its doors to students from outside of Customs. Today, the SCC trains middle and senior level Customs officials as well as Customs and trade professionals, offering them knowledge updates and advanced courses.

Over the past few years, the SCC has been developing an internationalization strategy, which integrates an intercultural, global dimension into a university’s mission, objectives and actions. This required the adoption of international standards related to the knowledge requirements for Customs officers, encouraging and promoting research on international trade topics, implementing student and teacher exchange programmes, and organizing field visits abroad.

Meeting international standards

Many universities around the world have now launched educational programmes that focus specifically on Customs issues and how they link to the international trade landscape. To ensure that these programmes provide the knowledge and skills that the WCO deems necessary for Customs staff and other trade professionals to acquire, the Organization developed a formal recognition process for university curricula as part of its Partnership in Customs Academic Research and Development Programme, known as the PICARD Programme.

Universities that wish to have their bachelor and master degrees officially recognized as meeting “WCO Professional Standards” can do so by applying to the WCO Secretariat. The SCC did this for its undergraduate majors in Customs management, in order to ensure that its curriculum is better geared to meeting the modern human resource requirements of Customs administrations. Certification was obtained in 2018 and, in 2019, the College applied for its Master in Public Administration to be recognized as meeting WCO requirements, a process that is still underway.

Encouraging research on Customs matters

Keen to promote research undertaken by academics on Customs and trade related issues and to enable Customs officers and academics to exchange views, the WCO Secretariat organizes the PICARD Conference annually. The SCC hosted the third PICARD Conference in 2008, and since then has been encouraging its teachers and students to respond to the call for papers issued by the WCO Secretariat ahead of each PICARD Conference. The papers submitted so far by SCC faculty staff and students cover a wide range of topics such as Customs modernization, cross-border e-commerce, big data analysis, and the concepts and practices implemented by China Customs. These papers also aim to introduce Customs practitioners to the latest developments in the Customs and trade world.

The participation of SCC faculty staff and students at events such as the PICARD Conference has enabled the College to network and establish relationships with other universities. Formal cooperation agreements, establishing undergraduate student exchange or cooperation mechanisms for international curriculum development and research, have been signed with the Customs and Consumption Tax Research Centre of Charles Sturt University in Australia, the Fontys University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, Münster University in Germany, and the North-West Institute of Management in Russia.

Student exchange programmes

In 2017, student exchange programmes were launched with Fontys University of Applied Sciences, Münster University, and the North-West Institute of Management. As an example, during the first edition of the programme, the Department of Customs Management of the SCC and the Department of Customs Management and Security of the North-West Institute of Management exchanged nine students for a three-month period. Each covered the students’ tuition and accommodation fees.

The students who participated in the programme had to complete a total of 12 credits over six courses during their stay. These courses dealt with supply chain management, international trade practice, international economic law, trade security and facilitation, and economic principles. This experience abroad also enabled the students to understand, respect and be more open to other cultures. In 2018, the number of exchange students increased to 30, and, in 2019, the exchange programme was expanded to the Departments of Economics of the two institutions, with the number of exchange students reaching 50.

Of particular note, the SCC tries to give foreign students the best experience possible. They can access all the resources available on campus, and can even participate in workshops and activities organized at the College by the WCO and the Chinese government. In addition, the SCC organizes visits for them to the Customs offices located at Yangshan Port, the largest cargo port in the world, and in the city of Pujiang. The College also offers them opportunities to discover Chinese culture through Tai Chi training and cooking courses, for example.

Exchange of teachers

The cooperation agreements mentioned earlier also include the exchange of teachers, the objective being to offer students access to the best knowledge available as well as new and different teaching methods. In 2017, the SCC sent teachers to Münster University to deliver a course on China Customs’ legal system to students following the Master of Customs Administration (MCA) in Customs, Taxation and International Trade Law.

Since 2018, experts from the SCC and the North-West Institute of Management visit each other’s institutions to lecture on international topics and undertake joint academic research. As an example, experts from the SCC have given a course on modern law enforcement at ports, while professors from the Institute of Management have delivered a course on the Russian Customs tax system.

The SCC also maintains close cooperation with Charles Sturt University and Murdoch University in Australia, the Rotterdam School of Management and the Modern Logistics Institute in the Netherlands, and Aix-Marseille University in France. It invites experts from these institutions to give courses at the College on topics as varied as indirect taxes, supply chain security, the evolution of Customs administrations, Brexit, the Customs clearance process, Customs supervision or the Single Window, shedding light on the latest practices in international trade and Customs for SCC students.

Fellowship programme

Under the framework of the cooperation activities that China Customs undertakes with other Customs administrations, the SCC organizes visits for SCC teachers and students abroad. So far, they have been sent to the Netherlands to learn about the management practices adopted by Dutch Customs. In 2017, the SCC organized a similar visit to New Zealand.

Future cooperation

The SCC is now planning to approach the Institute of Financial Management in Germany, the Konkuk University in Korea, and the University of Customs and Finance in Ukraine, in order to discuss the implementation of a student exchange programme, the joint development of an educational curriculum, joint teaching programmes, the granting of joint certificates, and the undertaking of joint research.

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