XJTLU is poised to lead education reform in China

After 12 years, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University has begun the second phase of operations and is intent on influencing China's higher education system, says executive president Youmin Xi

May 25, 2018
Climber in China

Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University is located in Suzhou, China – a city known as the Venice of the East. Jointly established in 2006 between Xi’an Jiaotong University and the University of Liverpool, we originally focused on science, engineering and management disciplines. We are the only Sino-foreign joint-venture university in China that is qualified to award double degrees as both a Chinese and British university.

Twelve years since its establishment, XJTLU now offers 37 undergraduate programmes, 37 master’s programmes and 15 doctoral programmes, which include science, engineering, management, economics, architecture, urban planning and design, humanities and social sciences, and film and television. It is now home to more than 13,000 students and approximately 1,000 academic and teaching support staff from more than 50 countries.

During these past 12 years, many lessons have been learnt. Most critical has been the need to have a clear vision and mission, as well as the right positioning of XJTLU to develop a sustainable business model for the institution. We have also respected the diversity of culture, and used Eastern holistic philosophy (harmony in difference) to develop a system to support the implementation of the strategy. We have nurtured a unique international culture and promoted a research-led working methodology to innovate continuously. We have been brave enough to break through traditional barriers. We have also learned to be fully committed to continuing our exploration of education in a turbulent environment.  


This rapid development can be attributed to the demands and opportunities brought about by the globalisation of the world’s economy, leading to reform and innovation in higher education. More importantly, it is because of XJTLU’s understanding of the future of education and its new philosophy of university management.

XJTLU has now completed its version 1.0 of development that includes: for education provision, it has developed an innovative training model for global specialised elites; for operations, it has established a networking organisation and management platform; for community outreach and service to society, it has created an open campus, a university-society interaction mechanism and symbiotic and sharing ecology; and in developing its influence on educational reforms, it has set up research and training centres for educational leadership, which has had great nationwide influence.  

However, to prepare for the future, and in particular, the increasing influence of artificial intelligence and robotics, XJTLU must create an education system to develop multi-skilled graduates equipped for the coming era of intelligence.

Therefore, in the next decade, XJTLU operations will upgrade to version 2.0, which will include:

  • Continuing to strengthen and improve the model for global specialised elites by establishing a “Syntegrative Education” model to train industry elites and to address the challenges brought on by the internet and AI
  • In addition to enhancing the current management system, it will explore new concepts for universities and new forms of campuses by constructing the XJTLU Syntegrative Education base in Taicang, near Suzhou
  • Based on the current interactive and service relationship with society, XJTLU will carry out several cooperative studies on major issues for future society, by acquiring government support and building industrial alliances
  • It will further expand its nationwide educational research and communication centres to cover a wider range of topics such as global, basic and higher education, to facilitate XJTLU’s mission to influence the development of education in China and the rest of the world

Our implementation plans for the above aspirational blueprint have begun and have strong support from our board of directors, government bodies, our partners and the community. We are confident that, with the realisation of these plans, XJTLU will be a leader in providing solutions for the future of higher education.

XJTLU’s success is a result of our understanding of trends in social development, our spirit of innovation and exploration, and belief in ourselves.

We have embraced the opportunities and challenges bestowed upon us by this era, and I am proud of XJTLU’s success. The pressures and challenges at different stages in our development have also kindled greater passion for innovation, which I am confident will continue to guide XJTLU’s future.

Youmin Xi is executive president of Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, pro vice-chancellor of the University of Liverpool and a professor of Management at Xi’an Jiaotong University.


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