China’s new private university welcomes first postgraduates

Doctoral students starting degrees at Westlake University handed advice to develop ‘strong morals’

August 29, 2018

Students have begun their courses at a private university in China that aims to be among the world’s best within 15 years.

Westlake University in Hangzhou – which will focus on the natural sciences, medical science and advanced technology – held an opening ceremony for doctoral students, the state-run broadcaster CGTN reported on its website.

“During the opening ceremony, Shi Yigong, the president of Westlake University, asked students to be ‘thirsty for knowledge’, cultivate wisdom, develop strong morals and be responsible in society,” the website’s report adds.

The website says that “120 students were selected to enter the university from around 1,500 applicants”.

Although the institution admitted its first batch of 19 students in autumn 2017, it was classified as a research institute – under the name Westlake Institute of Advanced Study – until it won the Ministry of Education’s approval in March to operate as a university.

The non-profit institution, initially for doctoral students only, is expected to grow to 5,000 students once undergraduates are admitted.

Professor Shi has been quoted by the South China Morning Post as having said last December in a speech that, within 15 years, “every indicator of our university will be on a par with that of Caltech”. The institution “will be regarded as one of the best universities not just in Asia but around the world”, he added.

Observers have suggested that the Chinese government might be trialling a new form of university governance, allowing a greater degree of autonomy, through the institution.

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