Vice-Chancellor addresses Times Higher Education’s Asia Universities Summit on how universities can drive the Fourth Industrial Revolution

  • Professor Sir Keith Burnett invited to major conference of global universities in China to consider the role of universities in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
  • Speaking in China’s preeminent innovation city, Sir Keith will share experiences of the University in Sheffield in developing innovative methods of research and teaching with industry – including the use of artificial intelligence, big data, internet of things and new models of technical education with industry


President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield Professor Sir Keith Burnett will join university leaders from across Asia in China this week (Monday 5 February 2018) where he will address delegates on how universities can drive the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The summit is being hosted by the Times Higher Education (THE) Global Rankings and has the theme ‘Connecting Cities, Changing the World’.

The event is being held in China’s preeminent city for tech and innovation, Shenzhen, which boasts a higher economic GDP than any European city including London, and is ranked 7th globally.

The city was China’s first Special Economic Zone and attracts innovation business from around the world. It is home to major Asian technology companies, including the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world, Huawei.

Times Higher Education summitAccording to Sir Keith: “Asia is a rapidly developing region and China is, of course, becoming a global economic superpower, driving an increase in prosperity for people in the region but also with aspirations to transform countries and trade across the Belt and Road region.

“Its universities are also rapidly developing, both as places of powerful and high-quality research but also as an increasingly important destination for international students.

“For that reason, I have been putting considerable effort to building the reputation of our University and the work we have been championing with industry in Asia. Key to this has been emphasising not only the benefits for Asian students of coming to Sheffield, but building partnerships which reflect our research partnerships with companies such as Siemens, McLaren and the Chinese space programme.”

He added: “I am delighted to see that not only is Sheffield increasingly-known as a place which is progressive in these areas, but that we have now secured partnerships for research and student exchange with the top universities in China and across Asia. This offers important opportunities for our academics but also for our own students who can gain so much from a period of study in Asia, as well as for the many wonderful students who come from the Asian region to undertake their degrees in Sheffield.”

In addition to the THE Asia Universities Summit, Sir Keith will be visiting one of the University of Sheffield's partner institutions, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and holding meetings with alumni and Sheffield students currently studying in Hong Kong.

Sir Keith is a Chinese speaker who has visited China on many occasions to build relationships with Chinese universities and industry, both on behalf of the university and with UK government delegations. The University of Sheffield is home to 3,419 Chinese students and there are 11,368 University of Sheffield graduates in China.

The University of Sheffield has partnerships with a number of top universities in China including the leading universities in Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Fudan. Chinese research collaborations include work on health, semiconductor technologies and advanced manufacturing, including the Chinese space programme.

Sir Keith also met Professor Rocky S. Tuan, President of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong. The University of Sheffield and The Chinese University of Hong Kong are partners through the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN), a leading global higher education and research network made up of 23 universities.

Together, the two universities have cooperated on a number of research collaborations and are also actively exchanging staff and students. In addition, the Sheffield Confucius Institute has been working in collaboration with the Childhood Bilingualism Research Centre of the Chinese University of Hong Kong on a project that aims to understand the acquisition of Mandarin Chinese by heritage Mandarin and Cantonese speakers.

As a well-known commentator on education and innovation in China, Sir Keith will also be undertaking a number of interviews with print and broadcast media in China including CNBC, China Daily, Xinhua News and the South China Morning Post.

Watch Sir Keith's interview on CNBC

CNBC interview

CNBC interview

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

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For further information please contact:

Hannah Postles
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 2221046