University of Sheffield joins consortium of leading global universities

  • University of Sheffield named as a founding member of the Silk Road University Consortium
  • Network of leading global universities aims to strengthen existing partnerships and create new opportunities for collaboration

The University of Sheffield has been named as a founding member of a new consortium of leading global universities launched in Xiamen, China.

Silk Road ConsortiumThe Silk Road University Consortium launch event and conference was attended by former University of Sheffield President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett, who represented the University and gave the keynote conference address on how university research and innovation can engage with industry to create opportunity and prosperity.

The consortium is coordinated by Xiamen University, which was founded in 1919 by Tan Kah Kee, a Chinese businessman committed to increasing global collaboration and trade. Xiamen University is located in a large strategic port city in the south of China and has remained a focus of international collaboration for research and student exchange.

Members of the network include Europe's leading Sorbonne and Bologna Universities as well as top universities from Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the USA. The UK will be represented in the network by four leading research-intensive Russell Group universities – Sheffield, Cardiff, Newcastle and Southampton.

The University of Sheffield already collaborates with a number of consortium universities, including work by Sheffield’s Professor Simon Foster and his research group focusing on antimicrobial resistance, work on semiconductors and student exchange with Nanjing.

The ambition is that existing partnerships will be strengthened by the consortium network and new opportunities for collaboration will be opened.

Silk Road consortiumWork discussed included spin out technologies at universities in Singapore and Australia, artificial intelligence and design at Sorbonne and environmental science in New Zealand.

Welcoming the launch of the Silk Road University Consortium, Sir Keith said: “I am delighted to represent the University of Sheffield and the city region on this significant occasion.

“The city of Xiamen was one of China's original four special economic zones opened to foreign investment and trade in the early 1980s and today it plays a leading role in China's Belt and Road Initiative, which is one of the key focuses of China's overseas development activity.

"For that reason, it is a fitting host to a consortium dedicated to productive international partnerships between leading universities as we work together on the great challenges we face as local communities and as countries.

“As well as opening up opportunities for academic and student collaboration and exchange, an audience of leading universities and influencers in China have also heard more about the outstanding work taking place in Sheffield."

In addition to the consortium event in Xiamen, the University is hosting a series of events with alumni in China and will be attending a partnership event with China's leading Tsinghua University in Beijing to be attended by senior delegates from industry and government. Sir Keith will also be giving a lecture at the Beijing Language and Culture University on 'Language, Culture and AI'.


Additional information

The University of Sheffield's relationship with Xiamen University

Links between Sheffield and Xiamen include collaborations in areas of science, engineering and health. Following a visit by the Faculty of Science to Xiamen in April, the University of Sheffield hosted a visit for the President Zhang of Xiamen University. At this time, the two Presidents signed an institution-wide Memorandum of Understanding. President Zhang was also shown around The Diamond building and met with colleagues from the Faculties of Engineering and Science.

Chinese students and alumni

There are 3,419 Chinese students studying on campus at the University of Sheffield, with 982 studying at undergraduate level, 2,250 at postgraduate taught, and 187 at postgraduate research level. The University of Sheffield is in the top three of the most popular choices for Chinese students of the UK's research-intensive Russell Group universities.

There are 13,433 University of Sheffield alumni in China, the majority having graduated over the last 10 years.

The University of Sheffield

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2018 and for the last eight years has been ranked in the top five UK universities for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Hannah Postles
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 2221046