Liverpool set for final China deal

October 28, 2005

Liverpool University is close to finalising a deal to build the last foreign campus in China for the foreseeable future.

The venture, expected to get the go-ahead next year, involves a unique partnership with a Chinese university to create a new institution with its own name and degree-awarding powers, granted under the aegis of China's Ministry of Education.

This will distinguish it from the only other foreign campus in China, opened by Nottingham University last month, which will award Nottingham degrees.

But hopes that the foreign campus model could rescue the UK's flagging share of the Chinese student market have been dampened by a decision by China's education minister to halt any similar initiatives for the time being.

Other institutions that have set their sights on building a campus in China, including Middlesex and Napier universities, will be left waiting until China is sure the Nottingham and Liverpool experiments are going satisfactorily.

Andrew Disbury, the British Council's education director in China, said the ministry wanted to see that Nottingham and Liverpool were achieving high standards before allowing other foreign universities in.

He said: "It is a daring step for them to allow foreign campuses in China.

It is likely they will pull up the drawbridge if they do not like what is going on. There is a lot of pressure on the first movers."

He added that there was plenty of scope for institutions to deliver more higher education in China through other partnership models, such as split degrees undertaken in China and the UK.

Drummond Bone, Liverpool's vice-chancellor, said it was a privilege to be one of only two institutions chosen to test the impact of foreign campuses in China. "But that privilege comes with the responsibility to get it right."

Liverpool has started building its campus 90km west of Shanghai. The institution, created in partnership with Xian Jiaotong University, is likely to be called Liverpool XJT University. Staff will be seconded from the partner institutions.

If given the go-ahead, Liverpool XJT will recruit 350 to 500 students next academic year, expanding to a maximum capacity of 10,000 students in seven years. Students will be able to choose between studying at the China campus only for a Liverpool XJT qualification or spending a final year at Liverpool to gain a UK degree.

Newcastle University and the University of Wales Institute Cardiff have announced new partnerships in Singapore. Newcastle has signed a letter of intent with Nanyang Technological University to create an energy research centre, while Uwic has agreed to franchise hospitality and business management courses with the East Asia School of Business Institute of Management.

tony.tysome@thes.co.uk

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