A golden age of collaboration: Our Vice-Chancellor visits China to deepen partnerships with UK

dragon boats Nanjing

Our Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett will visit Shanghai and Nanjing next week to develop existing collaborations and meet with Chinese partners in our award-winning Confucius Institute – twice named a Global Confucius Institute of the Year.

During his visit to China, (24-29 July 2016), Sir Keith – a strong advocate for positive relations between the UK and China and a Mandarin speaker – will also undertake interviews with Chinese media in Shanghai.

A regular contributor to China Daily, Sir Keith said: “I am proud to communicate a positive message that the UK and China have much to gain from long-term partnerships on issues of common challenge including low-carbon energy, healthcare technologies, industrial partnerships and sustainable cities.

“Ever since my first visit to China just over a decade ago, I have had a great admiration for the Chinese people, and this has only been strengthened as I have got to know the Chinese colleagues and students who play such an important part in our University and the region.

“Anyone who sees the skyscrapers of Shanghai edging a river of tankers and giant cargo ships weighed down with steel, concrete and coal must catch their breath at the sight of how China’s cities are driving economic transformation for a nation of 1.4 billion people.”

As a scientist and a teacher, our Vice-Chancellor is also keen that the UK embraces the opportunities of solving the great challenges of our age together.

He continued: “We in the UK should care about how China develops. It is not simply that China is the world’s second-largest economy and growing fast; China is home to almost a quarter of the world’s population and the future geopolitical and environmental future of our planet will be deeply influenced by the choices it makes in the next few years.

We in the UK should care about how China develops. It is not simply that China is the world’s second-largest economy and growing fast; China is home to almost a quarter of the world’s population and the future geopolitical and environmental future of our planet will be deeply influenced by the choices it makes in the next few years.

Vice-Chancellor

“President Xi has said this is a Golden Age for collaboration between the UK and China, and it is up to us to show that we are open to the opportunity to work together. I am thrilled with the work we are doing together with companies, universities and other partners from Hong Kong and Beijing, to Shanghai, Nanjing and Chengdu. Certainly many of our problems are shared ones – how to make sustainable societies, ensure that the whole of society can have a share in prosperity and care for an ageing population.”

After Shanghai, Sir Keith will travel to Nanjing to hold meetings with the Confucius Institute and partner organisations.

Nanjing is the capital of China’s eastern Jiangsu province. With a population of over 8 million people – similar to that of London – it was at one time the national capital of the Republic of China.

In 2015, we announced a Joint Institute for Science with Nanjing Technical University. Courses will be offered in Chemistry, Financial Mathematics and Materials Physics. We also work closely with Nanjing University in English, Astronomy and Engineering – in particular the area of semi-conductors, a field in which we are an international leader.

Sir Keith said of our work in Nanjing: “This will create a large cohort of graduates who have been taught in both the Western and Eastern traditions, forging links between our countries for the future in these very important areas. At the same time we will be able to build on our already significant success in high-impact research collaboration in China, in particular in such vital areas as sustainable energy and food, health and other challenges which require the talents of both nations. In all this work, our aim is long-term partnership built around mutual benefit, respect and friendship.”

The visit is part of our continuing effort to work with China. Our Vice-Chancellor has been part of previous UK government visits to China and is expected to join a Ministerial delegation to promote educational partnerships in the autumn.

The Vice-Chancellor's visit comes as it was announced that more than £1bn is to be invested in Sheffield by Chinese manufacturing firm Sichuan Guodong Construction Group over the next 60 years, to pay city centre projects and create “hundreds if not thousands” of jobs in South Yorkshire.

Facts and figures

  • We have over 3,000 Chinese students and an alumni network of over 11,000.
  • Our Confucius Institute has twice been awarded the title ‘Global Confucius of the Year’ and is seen as a global exemplar in its work with schools and the public, but also in its outreach to the business community.
  • Our Vice-Chancellor was awarded an Individual Achievement Award by the Vice-Premier of China for his contribution to the understanding of Chinese language and culture.
  • We are a member of the ‘Sheffield City Region China Business Incubator’ (SCRCBI) supporting the New Era Development (NED) – a gateway to enable China enterprises to invest in the Sheffield City Region, and a regional hub for intelligence and network sharing for local businesses which are doing business with China.