Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of CCSEP: Looking Back and Looking Forward

For more information on the Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program, please visit the EduCanada website

by EduCanada


A CCSEP alumnus from Canada, Mark Rowswell, better known by his Chinese stage name Dashan, performed Xiangsheng, a form of traditional Chinese crosstalk comedy, in Shanghai in 1990.


A Canadian young man studying in China fell in love with Xiangsheng, a traditional Chinese comedy, and became a student of two prominent Chinese Xiangsheng masters, eventually becoming a household name in China and being appointed as a “Goodwill Ambassador to China.” Similarly, a Chinese woman who graduated from an art academy in China went to Canada, ultimately obtaining a Ph.D. in computer sciences. Committed to integrating interactive media technology and art, she founded the Canada China International Film Festival, which has been held for eight consecutive years.

These two individuals share a common bond as beneficiaries of the Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program (CCSEP). Fifty years ago, the Chinese and Canadian governments agreed to establish the CCSEP to enhance mutual understanding. Through this program, professionals from higher education institutions, governments, media, and cultural organizations in both countries receive government funding support to study and conduct research in each other’s countries.

The program’s inaugural year saw nine Chinese scholars embark on their academic journey in Canada, along with 20 Canadian scholars pursuing their studies in China, marking the beginning of student and scholar exchanges between the two nations. Over the past five decades, more than 1,100 students and scholars have studied or conducted research in China or Canada, with nearly 380 Canadian students and scholars studying in China since the beginning of the 21st century alone. Upon returning to Canada, these recipients have actively engaged in fields such as government, academia, media, business, and art, with some becoming leading figures in their respective industries. These alumni serve as bridges for China-Canada exchanges in their fields, contributing to bilateral friendship and cooperation.

As the earliest and longest-lasting program, the CCSEP is the most influential and highest-level talent cultivation and scholar exchange initiative between the two countries, sponsored by their respective governments. It stands as a testament to the development of people-to-people exchanges between China and Canada.

In the present day, China has become the world’s second-largest economy, with its education and scientific research levels moving towards the forefront globally. According to the China National Academy of Educational Sciences, China’s Education Superpower Index ranked 23rd globally in 2022, rising 26 places compared to 2012, making it the country with the fastest progress. Additionally, the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Global Innovation Index identifies 24 Science and Technology clusters in China this year, with three of them ranking among the top five worldwide. This development has laid a solid foundation for educational exchanges between China and Canada, creating a pressing need for further collaboration.

China remains committed to opening up the education sector to the world, continuously forging new patterns of international cooperation and exchanges in education, and comprehensively enhancing the level of international education cooperation. These approaches enable China’s education system to confidently and proactively step onto the global stage with an open mindset.

The hope is that more Chinese and Canadian students can gain great insights and understanding of each other’s history, culture, and socio-economic development through the CCSEP. This will enrich their lives, foster their professional growth, and establish a solid foundation of public support for improving and developing China-Canada relations. More Canadian students and scholars are welcome to come to China, where they will be impressed by the hospitality of the Chinese people, meet diligent Chinese students, and experience vibrant Chinese society. The expectation is that they will return to Canada with cherished memories of their time in China.

Anticipation is high for the next successful and fruitful 50 years of the Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program. H.E. Chinese Ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu eagerly looks forward to the continued success of the program.



  • The article was first published by the Hill Times.
  • EduCanada is the official Government of Canada source about studying in Canada for international students and researchers.



Voices & Bridges publishes opinions like this from the community to encourage constructive discussion and debate on important issues. Views represented in the articles are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the V&B.