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Leading UK and Chinese Universities meet to discuss links between academia and industry

A group of experts from the UK and China have met in Nanjing to discuss global challenges, internationalisation, knowledge transfer and innovation between academia and industry.

UCEER Ian Greer web

It is the first time that members of the UK-China University Consortium on Engineering Education and Research (UK-China UCEER) - nine UK Russell Group universities and the Chinese Excellence League (E9) Group of Universities - have joined together for the E9’s annual Presidents’ Forum.

Queen’s University Belfast leads the nine UK Russell Group universities in the Consortium, which is the first of its kind. It focuses on promoting and facilitating strategic engagement and collaboration in higher education, between universities in the UK and China.

During the UCEER Presidents’ Forum 2018, the UCEER members discussed globalisation; the importance of internationalisation to universities; and boosting knowledge transfer and innovation between academia and industry.

Speakers at the Forum included Professor Ian Greer, President and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University Belfast; Dr Tim Bradshaw, CEO of the Russell Group; Professor Robin Mason, University of Birmingham; Professor Ahmed Elsheikh, University of Liverpool; Matt Knowles, British Council and Professor Mark Price, Queen’s University Belfast.

At the event, Queen’s University announced plans to establish UCEER scholarship opportunities.

President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, Professor Ian Greer, announced nine scholarships for joint PhD students – between Queen’s University Belfast and the Consortium’s China partners.

Professor Greer commented: “International PhD students are the lifeblood of an international research intensive university such as Queen’s. This unique opportunity is open to PhD students who have a direct link to a Chinese partner within the Consortium.”

Speaking on behalf of the UK universities, Queen’s University Belfast’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engineering and Physical Sciences, Professor Mark Price, said: “The Consortium has been working to develop the next generation of engineers who can effectively collaborate with their counterparts in China. We are now beginning to see the success of this and it is fantastic to be in Nanjing to meet and discuss further collaboration.”

Since its inception in 2016, the Consortium has established a Future Engineers’ Leadership and Innovation Academy (FELIA), which aims to equip the next generation of research engineers with the skills needed in high performing transnational teams.

UCEER also recently launched the UK-China Knowledge Exploitation Forum in Chongqing to bring together leading figures from government, academia and industry. This Forum has actively supported and organised nine thematic workshops and conferences in both China and the UK. Its aim is to discuss novel and cross-boundary approaches of collaboration in the fields of intelligent manufacturing and revolutionary smart energy systems.

Professor Zhang Guangjun, President of Southeast University said: “Transnational exchange and cooperation is not only a vital way to enhance the University’s excellence but is also an opportunity to evolve itself into a world first class university.

“The UK, as a world-leading country in education, with advanced educational concepts and paradigms, is an important partner for China’s endeavour to build universities that are internationalised. Universities, especially the top universities, are playing an essential role in leading the development of human society and civilization. Therefore, UCEER should commit itself to transnational, mutually beneficial and inclusive collaborations with the aim to increase the subjects and elevate the level of joint programs among partner universities.”

Jazreel Goh, Education Director China, British Council commented: “Education is an important focus for the UK’s relationship with China, and a shared national priority. It is fantastic to see the UCEER initiative growing from strength to strength. The strong foundation laid by UCEER members for increased collaborations in engineering between the UK and China is contributing to shaping an eco-system in which experts and students from both countries can share their ideas and innovate on an international scale, with potential for true societal impact.”