Vice-Chancellor builds bridges between Sheffield and China

  • University of Sheffield President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett visits to Beijing and Xi'an as part of the University's efforts to cement academic and industrial partnerships in China
  • Chinese Vice-Premier announces Sir Keith has been invited to join the Global Council of Confucius Institutes - a personal honour in recognition of his work to strengthen the relationship between the UK and China
  • Sir Keith will make a number of visits with the Chinese Ministry for Industries to industry-academic research partnerships focused on electric cars, aerospace and additive manufacturing

beijing

President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield Professor Sir Keith Burnett will this week (11 December 2017) visit Beijing and Xi’an as part of the University’s efforts to cement academic and industrial collaborations in China.

The week-long visit began in Xi’an with Sir Keith addressing the global conference of the Confucius Institutes, including a private speech to the Chinese Vice-Premier and Minister for Education on the future of international collaboration with China. The Chinese Vice-Premier announced Sir Keith has been invited to join the Global Council of Confucius Institutes - a personal honour in recognition of his work to strengthen the relationship between the UK and China.

The University of Sheffield’s award-winning Confucius Institute focuses on advanced manufacturing and health as well as Chinese language teaching - an approach which has won support in the UK and China.

Following the conference, Sir Keith - who is Chair of Science and Innovation for the Sheffield City Region and also a Chinese speaker - will return to Beijing where he will make a number of visits with the Chinese Ministry for Industries to industry-academic research partnerships focused on electric cars, aerospace and additive manufacturing.

Confucius InstituteAt the end of the trip, Sir Keith has been asked to join a forum for China’s top 100 businesses, including the directors of its leading digital companies. Sir Keith will also meet the President of Beihang University and holding a number of meetings with senior academic colleagues with the aim of developing research partnerships and student and staff exchange, as well looking into new forms of technical education with industry such as apprentices and augmented learning.

Sir Keith said: “It is exciting to see the University of Sheffield’s partnerships in China grow in ways which not only strengthen our research and teaching, but which we know will bring health and economic benefits to citizens in both communities. In recent years, the University of Sheffield has developed partnerships with China’s top universities and these are now flourishing at a time when Chinese research has never been stronger. Work in areas like advanced manufacturing, semiconductor technologies and science creates a platform for partnership with one of the world’s great developing economies, home to 1.4 billion people.

“I am amazed at the rapid changes I see, and not just the high-speed trains which link these cities. China has lifted more than half a billion people out of poverty. A generation ago, nine out of 10 Chinese people lived on less than $2 a day. Now less than three in 100 do so. In 1949 life expectancy was 36, now it has more than doubled to 76. In 1949, eight out of 10 people could not read or write. Now 95 per cent can."

He added: “What is particularly inspiring is that our Chinese partners want to learn from our experiences as a research intensive university in a region which has itself faced real challenges and looked to innovation to renew its industries. Many of the problems we face on sustainable transport technologies and healthcare for an ageing population are very familiar in China. If we work together to address these issues, making products to sell to the world, that would be a huge opportunity for our university and city.”

Sir Keith first visited China in 2005 when he was Head of the Division of Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the University of Oxford, but has since developed a deep interest in this rapidly changing nation. In 2016 he was awarded individual honours from China for his contribution to the understanding of Chinese language and culture.

Additional information

  • The University Of Sheffield has 3,419 Chinese students and 11,368 graduates in China.
  • The University has partnerships with a number of top universities in China including the leading universities in Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Fudan.
  • In 2016, Sir Keith joined colleagues from the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre to formally launch a partnership with the Shanghai Academy of Space Technology to work on high-performance metals for the Chinese space programme.
  • The Sheffield Confucius Institute was recently awarded the Sheffield City Region Horasis award for supporting partnerships in China.

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Contact

For further information please contact:

Hannah Postles
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 2221046
h.postles@sheffield.ac.uk