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20 December 2011
Leading light in Chinese education visits University of Nottingham Ningbo China

China’s Deputy Minister of Education visited The University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) in another sign that the pioneering University has impressed the country’s leaders at the highest levels.

Ningbo Campus

The Deputy Minister for Education, Du Yubo, said UNNC had set an example for other Sino-foreign universities to follow – and urged it to continue leading the way.

UNNC has welcomed several important visitors this year, including Premier Wen Jiabao – the equivalent of the country’s prime minister – in April.

The University opened its doors in 2004 in eastern China’s prosperous Zhejiang province, as the first Sino-foreign collaborative university with full approval of the authorities. All degree programmes are taught in English and all graduates are awarded British degrees from The University of Nottingham UK.

All Chinese students have been employed or accepted for postgraduate studies at top international universities within six months of graduating, according to statistics filed with the government. The success of UNNC has paved the way for the establishment of other Sino-foreign universities in China, which has embarked on an ambitious programme to dramatically overhaul its education system.

Mr Du, the second most powerful politician in education with overall responsibility for higher education in China, said during his visit to UNNC on December 5 that he expects the internationalisation of China’s higher education institutes to become a trend.

The University of Nottingham has set a stellar example for other Sino-foreign universities and, as a result, demand for similar international education provision is expected to grow significantly, he noted.

He said he had heard many good comments about UNNC in Chinese education circles and that the national Ministry of Education would definitely continue to support UNNC.

Mr Du encouraged the University to keep developing its strengths, in particular placing teaching and learning at the top of its priority list and generally placing students at the centre of all its plans.

He said the University should continue to raise the high standards of international education through innovation and lead the way for Sino-foreign universities within the legal framework.

Before touring the park-like campus and visiting its modern science and engineering facilities, Mr Du congratulated the two partners – The University of Nottingham and Zhejiang Wanli Education Group – for achieving remarkable success in a relatively short time. He encouraged the University to develop long-term strategic plans in order to keep leading the way.

“It is important to keep and develop your unique features as a competitive advantage and keep developing high quality talented graduates to cater for local demand,” said Mr Du.

Professor Nick Miles, Provost and CEO of UNNC, gave Mr Du a comprehensive briefing on the University’s future plans, which include developing science and engineering specialism to help address national research requirements and knowledge transfer.

“Within the next few years our plan is to grow,” he said, pointing out that the University now has more than 5,000 students and more than 400 staff members from over 40 countries around the world.

Professor Miles said the ultimate test of the University’s success is the value employers placed on hiring UNNC graduates.

The kind of employers who want our graduates are international companies looking for skills sets that would help them as they stretch into the world, he said.

“This is the external world measuring our graduates, so it is a very important point,” said Professor Miles.

In addition to excelling in academic fields, UNNC students are making valuable contributions to their immediate communities as well as those in need elsewhere.

Each year about 1,500 students volunteer in various communities, providing teaching and support at kindergartens and primary schools, helping autistic children and generally giving to others in less developed provinces and regions.

The University’s students are also making their mark in international university competitions, he told Mr Du.

A group of Students In Free Enterprise won the national trophy in a challenging social entrepreneurship competition that entailed designing sustainable income creation projects for disadvantaged last year. This weekend, December 10-11, students will compete in the regional finals of the China Daily/21st Century Cup National English Speaking Competition, to be held this year at UNNC, said Professor Miles.

Madame Xu Yafen, head of the Zhejiang Wanli Education Group, gave Mr Du an overview of how the first Sino-foreign university came into being.

“The key point is that almost all the Chinese universities are teacher-centred and students just listen to what is taught and have to memorise.

“We realised the need to bring in some new educational ideas and systems. It required bold thinking to start a Sino-foreign university,” said Madame Xu, who played a key role in the launch of UNNC.

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