I originally wrote a review of the University in April 2012. Some things have changed in the last 18 months. I would still, with some qualifications, recommend Dahongying University as a good place to work.
The pay is low, 5k, but so are the hours, and it is possible to acquire part-time students in Ningbo who could ensure that you earn a decent amount of money. With one exception we have been paid on time each month. I think that the Uni understand the importance of not paying us a couple of days late again. The apartments are quite good. There's actually 2 different sets of buildings that teachers live in. One is slightly nicer, but noisier. Ideally new teachers are offered a choice, but not always. Having lived in both now, I'm not sure there's much of a difference anyway.
Dahongying is not the most prestigious Uni. In fact, we tend to get the students that score lowest on their school entry exams. This actually has 2 good consequences though. Often the reason they scored lower is because they come from the countryside. There’s all kinds of reasons for this phenomena, but what it mean in practice is that our students are not spoiled city brats. They’re grateful to be here. They’re committed and they work hard; for the most part too hard. I love teaching here. The Uni isn’t perfect, but I find it hard to imagine leaving when the core part of my job, the teaching, is so cool. It is rewarding to see the distance travelled by the students. However, if you want to teach high-level students, you may be frustrated here.
Secondly, the academic standards and practices of the University as a whole may not be fantastic, but the department that oversees the Foreign teachers is ok, and the Head of that department is supportive and competent. Teachers are treated with respect and trusted to be professional and deliver good classes. Of course the constant danger is that teachers abuse this trust and the whole team finds itself drowned under an ocean of rules and regulations. Clases are supposed to be observed, both by Chinese academic staff and the Foreign Teacher Director of Studies, but this doesn't happen very much. There is a creeping problem that teacher performance is judged on student feedback, both formal (which has never provided any meaningful data or results) and informal student feedback, which obviously could be unfair.
So the other plusses;
-Close to the city centre (or at least closer than the other Unis)
-Good existing curriculum
-Our boss (Head of foreign affairs) is an honest and trustworthy person.
-We’re in the south east, so the weather is ok. (Too cold for me in winter, but about as good as you’re going to get in China without going to the south which may be too hot).
-Ningbo is a nice medium sized city. Not Beijing or Shanghai, but there are plenty of other foreigners in the city and a couple of foreign bar and restaurant areas.
-Teachers are paid 80% of their salary over the holidays, including the summer holiday for those who are retained.
-There's only 5-6 foreign teachers here, so there's not a ready made social life on campus unless you befriend students. If the 5 teachers got on well and socialised, that would be different, but it's always more likely that you'll have 5 or 6 people of different ages, backgrounds and personality. However the old hands have been here a few years and can probably point you in the direction of any type of social activities you want, as long as its not too depraved, (in which case we may be relying on you to point us in the right direction).
-The students are quite low ability. (As I've pointed out, they're motivated and for me that's one of the nice things about the job)
-First year teachers almost certainly will have to teach at the other campus once a week. You catch the 7am bus and get back in the evening about 4.30 or 5, teaching for four and a half hours in between, so it's a long day). In fact one of the things that has changed is that about half of our undergraduate classes are on the other campus, and nearly all the teachers now have to go to the other campus once a week. Additionally (to ensure that those teachers only have to go once a week) 2 of the classes there have more than 60 very low level students each. A highly skilled teacher may still be able to make something of those classes, but I think I'm a good teacher and I'm not sure I could accomplish much with those numbers. The other campus is in the middle of nowhere, so I'm not sure it would be fair to have someone based there, or to do the trip 2 days. It's a big problem, with no obvious solution. If you come to work here, you will almost certainly have to go to the other campus once a week, and maybe not just for your first year. The bus to the other campus leaves at 7, and most days you'll have classes starting at 8am, so you really need to live on campus, or get the Uni to give you your own apartment on campus from day 1, even if you're not going to use it. Having so many classes on the other campus makes it impossible to give off-campus teachers mostly afternoon and consecutive classes.
-It's always been important to treat all the teachers equally fairly. This year it's felt more like we're treating all the teachers equally unfairly, which isn't desirable.
-The computers in the apartments are basically pieces of junk. Bring your own.
-All foreign teacher affairs used to be organised by the Foreign Affairs department, including data inputting. The department acted as a conduit between the foreign teachers and the different academic schools and departments that we provide classes for. This was great for the foreign teachers who only had to liaise with 1 person. it wasn't so great for the Foreign affairs officer who had an impossible workload. Now we have a co-teacher in each department, and it's a bit confusing and problematic. Each school or department maybe has 2 or 3 foreign teachers doing a fairly small number of classes.
I think to enjoy working somewhere, you need to have a pleasant and friendly working environment. If you're the kind of person who has always been lucky enough to work with a pleasant group of people; you're probably not actually lucky. You're probably the kind of person who makes their own good fortune in this regard, and I hope you'll consider coming to Dahongying.
This is still a good place to work - potentially. I think all the positive things about the Uni are the same. Teachers coming here just need to be aware of the negatives.