The “Presidents’ Forum of UK-China University Consortium on Engineering Education and Research” hosted by Southeast University was convened in Nanjing on November 23. Zhang Jun, President of Beijing Institute of Technology, Zhang Zongyi, President of Chongqing University, Guo Dongming, President of Dalian University of Technology, Zhang Guangjun, President of Southeast University, Zhou Yu, President of Harbin Institute of Technology, Gao Song, President of South China University of Technology, Zhong Denghua, President of Tianjin University, Chen Jie, President of Tongji University, Huang Wei, Managing Vice President of Northwestern Polytechnical University, President Ian Greer and Vice President Mark Price from Queen's University Belfast, Robin Mason, Vice President of University of Birmingham, Tim Bradshaw, CEO of Russell Group, Ma Xuning, Director of British Council and Cultural Education Consul of British Consulate-General in Shanghai, representatives from such British Universities as Cambridge University, University of Leeds, Liverpool University and Warwick University, etc. as well as representative of Tokyo Institute of Technology attended the forum. The forum was presided over by Managing Vice President Wang Baoping from Southeast University.
At the opening ceremony, President Zhang Guangjun first extended his welcome to all presidents and guests who attended the forum on behalf of the Consortium and Southeast University, and also expressed his gratitude for their long-term support and assistance of Southeast University. President Zhang said that the higher education in China would not only usher its golden opportunity of rapid development, but also encounter the brand-new challenges of connotative high-quality development in the new era. It is the common mission of higher education institutions in China to persist in the development of socialist higher education with Chinese characteristics, build the world-class universities and the top-ranking disciplines with integrated efforts. He pointed out that international exchanges and cooperation, as the historical mission and important function of universities granted by the Party and the state in the new era, would function not only as an important way to enhance the university’s capacity for school running, but also an important breakthrough for establishing world-class universities with Chinese characteristics. At present, at the golden age of Sino-British relations, Sino-British higher education highlights solid foundation for cooperation, complete mechanism, complementary advantages and broad prospects. He believed that this forum would enhance mutual trust, collide with wisdom, deepen cooperation and consensus so as to lay down a more solid foundation for the expansion of a comprehensive and high-level substantive cooperation between universities within the consortium in the future. At the same time, it was also expected that universities within the consortium would make joint efforts and sail in the same boat towards the world and future on the basis of more openness and inclusiveness to get integrated and learn from each other on a larger scale, at a higher level and from a deeper perspective. Thus a new pattern of high-level exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and British universities could be established from all-round perspectives and in focused, multi-level and wide fields. In this sense, greater contributions can be made to promoting the construction of world-class universities in both countries, enhancing the core competitiveness of both countries, boosting and taking the initiative in global social development and human civilization progress.
In the speech addressed by President Ian Greer from Queen's University Belfast, he stated that the Sino-British Consortium on Engineering Education and Research that has functioned as a bridge between Chinese and British academic circles could further promote the development and cooperation between China and the UK in higher education. President Ian Greer said that the talent would be the driving force behind the future development and also the key to sustainable development for both countries. Thanks to this platform, both Chinese and British universities can explore new ways of talent development with joint efforts in the 21st century. President Ian Greer also stated that his university would focus on cultivating engineering leaders in the new era by virtue of the Future Engineer Leadership and Innovation Academy program. Sino-British universities would commit themselves to attracting more outstanding doctoral candidates in the course of technological exchanges and experience communication so as to produce higher quality publications, work out higher-level papers, and enhance the promotion and application of innovative viewpoints. President Ian Greer said that the consortium highly complied with the Made in China 2025 program. He believed that universities of both countries, thought the consortium, particularly the implementation of the “Innovation Institute Program”, would usher the golden age of development together.
Then President Zhang Guangjun from Southeast University, President Ian Greer from Queen's University Belfast, student representatives of the Future Engineer Leadership and Innovation College including Song Haochuan from Southeast University and Shane Trimble from Queen’s University Belfast launched the 2018 Consortium’s Future Engineer Leadership and Innovation College program together. As the international cooperation program on short-term research & study, it would not only represent the first global program of its kind at the Ph.D level to cultivate the engineers' leadership and innovation capabilities in the future, but also an innovative exploration to upgrade the quality connotations of higher education in the field of engineering both in China and the UK.
During the president forum, presidents from Chinese and British universities delivered speeches and discussions on three themes, namely, “the opportunities and challenges encountered by higher education both in China and the UK in the era of globalization”, “the assistance of international exchanges and cooperation in constructing world-class universities” and “the new tendency and new strategy in promoting knowledge transfer and innovation between universities and enterprises”, etc. so as to seek possibilities of wisdom development and cooperation on higher education between China and the UK in the new era.
President Zhang Guangjun met the delegation led by President Ian Greer from Queen’s University Belfast before the forum. They’ve exchanged ideas and reached a consensus on the consortium’s development in the future, especially in terms of the expansion of cooperation scale, intensification of the cooperation content and the philosophy of higher education, etc..
It is understood that the UK-China University Consortium on Engineering Education and Research, established in May 2017, was initiated by Southeast University and Queen’s University Belfast and composed of nine Chinese universities highlighting engineering disciplines and six British universities from the Russell group. Among them, the Chinese members include Southeast University, Beijing Institute of Technology, Chongqing University, Dalian University of Technology, Harbin Institute of Technology, Northwestern Polytechnical University, South China University of Technology, Tianjin University and Tongji University while the UK universities include Queen's University Belfast, University of Birmingham, Cardiff University, University College London, University of Nottingham and Warwick University. This consortium represents the first university consortium of its kind characterized by engineering education and research as established under the cooperation between China and the UK. Since its establishment one year ago, the universities within the consortium have been working together with concentrated efforts and sincere assistance. Therefore, they have carried out in-depth cooperation and achieved fruitful results in respect of personnel training, exchange visit of teachers, scientific research and cultural exchanges, etc.. Especially in December last year, the joint declaration made for the consortium’s official establishment was incorporated into the Sino-UK high-level people-to-people exchange mechanism; in addition, the governments of both countries greatly recognized and supported the consortium. In September 2018, Cambridge University, University of Leeds and Liverpool University also signed to join the consortium. In this sense, nine British universities have been enrolled up to now.