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World-class university leaders share opinions on challenges, opportunities in Chinese higher education

By Yuan Shenggao | | Updated: 2021-12-10 20:03
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The leadership team of SUSTech meets with its IAC members online in Shenzhen on Thursday. [Photo provided to]

A total of 17 world-class university leaders gathered at an online think tank meeting Thursday to provide their insights and suggestions to the development of Chinese higher education.

The participants included the heads or former heads of 10 global top 50 universities, including the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University Louise Richardson, President Emeritus of California Institute of Technology Jean-Lou Chameau, former president of Tsinghua University Gu Binglin, and former president of Peking University Lin Jianhua.

Chameau advised against superficial dividing of the fundamental research and the applied science, and proposed that research institutions should "pay attention to quality over quantity" with regards to research outputs.

Richardson emphasized the role of arts and humanities within STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education, arguing that much of the work of the sciences could be underpinned if they were well integrated.

Lin Zhongqin, president of Shanghai Jiaotong University, suggested universities "keep track of previous graduates and what they're doing", and utilize their feedback in designing courses and programs.

The university leaders are working as the International Advisory Council members for Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech), a young research university based in Shenzhen, a booming city in South China.

Established in 2010, SUSTech has been serving as a pilot for higher education reform in the interest of modernizing China's national university system.

The IAC members discussed a range of other issues with SUSTech President Xue Qikun and his senior leadership team, including the diversity of university funding, curriculum innovation, major projects, excellent faculties and student recruitment, international partnerships in the face of the pandemic and an uncertain future and more.

The IAC of SUSTech is chaired by Henry Yang, president of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and joined by 19 global higher education leaders.

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