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Centenarian Nankai makes big move to boost global links

By Yang Cheng in Tianjin | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-24 07:30
Cao Xuetao, president of Nankai University. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Nankai University recently inked an agreement with the University of Glasgow to establish joint doctorate program.

The signing ceremony was held at the China University's Forum, which was co-organized by Times Higher Education, one of the leading university education assessment organizations in the world, and Nankai University in late March in Tianjin.

"The new project is part of a series of events to mark the university's 100th anniversary in October this year and an initiative to fulfill the university's aim to boost its international collaborations," says Nankai University's president Cao Xuetao.

The University of Glasgow, one of the 10 oldest universities in the world, has built strong ties with Nankai over the past 20 years, and it worked with Nankai to establish the UK's first joint graduate school in China in 2015, according to Anton Muscatelli, the principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Glasgow.

Also during the event, Nankai's president spoke about the university's plan to beef up its efforts to boost its globalization of higher education and establish in-depth international collaborations.

To date, Nankai has teamed up with 320 universities and academic institutions worldwide on a number of projects. It plans to embark on more partnerships with international universities in social sciences, natural sciences, engineering and biomedical sciences, and to build 10 interdisciplinary research centers and 10 joint research centers with them, according to Cao.

"Currently, we are setting up international joint research centers with Oxford University and the University of Birmingham," Cao says.

Michael Spence, the vice-chancellor of the University of Sydney who also attended the China University's Forum, says that his institution is now looking at working with Nankai University.

Speaking about the future, Cao says: "To prepare for its next centennial journey, the university is vying for high-level personnel from across the world, to facilitate communication and cooperation with top universities worldwide."

He mentions Yale, saying that 70 percent of its teachers were from non-English countries and nearly half of its library collections were not in English, reflecting the institution's high degree of globalization and its goal of building a global university.

In addition, Cao says that a "Global Campus" project is in the pipeline to significantly increase its international student intake from the current 3,000.

Last year, Nankai University was ranked 10th among Chinese universities on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Leading Chinese universities didn't rank very well in the rankings last year, but Phil Baty, THE's chief knowledge officer, says: "Chinese universities must boost their international collaborations and presence in a bid to reduce the gap with foreign universities."

Wang Wei, an analyst with Elsevier, the data analysis provider for the THE's rankings, says that Chinese universities had made great strides in scientific research, but failed in efficiently and effectively releasing their data and achievements to the world, and there's much room for improvement.

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