Empires and learning
Fascinating piece in the Economist
WHEN Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman of Blackstone Group, a private-equity firm, announced in Beijing on Sunday the $300m Schwarzman Scholars programme to send students to China to study, it was a testament to China’s place in the world as a new centre of gravity. Its gravitational pull on corporate money is already fearsome: Behind Mr Schwarzman himself, a long list of companies and individuals with substantial business interests in China have lined up to contribute to the programme: Boeing, an airplane maker; Caterpillar, a maker of bulldozers and excavators; BP, an oil company; and several large banks.
Schwarzman Scholars will fund scholarships beginning in 2016 for 200 students a year from much of the world to attend classes at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, the alma mater of President Xi Jinping and of many other top leaders (Mr Xi sent a letter to the announcement ceremony). The scholarship is to fund the studies of 10,000 students over 50 years.
In ambition and scope Mr Schwarzman seeks to draw comparisons to the Rhodes scholarship. Cecil John Rhodes, an English-born South African diamond magnate, established his scholarship to send students to the then-centre of the world, England (it still sends 82 students a year for two-year stints at Oxford University, long since England ceased to be the centre of the universe).
Reminds me of a piece in the BMJ about how Great Ormond Street Hospital are sending surgical trainees to India to learn cardiac surgery. My advice to clinical trainees is to leave the UK and see how others do things, then think a bit. Even better if we could do this at the undergraduate level.