Brussels, 08 Nov 2005
Combining a recognition of rising global competition to attract the best brains, and at the same time the emergence of China as an increasingly dominant player in science and technology, Europe's universities have been thinking hard about what they can do to charm the best students and researchers.
For years Chinese students have come to Europe to study, but many believe that this one-way flow will not last forever, and that European universities need to be more proactive in order to remain in the market. Bilateral agreements and exchange programmes have proliferated, but now two UK universities have gone a step further with the establishment of new institutions in China.
Nottingham University was the first to announce its plans, and indeed to open a university building - the Ningbo campus of the University of Nottingham. The opening of the campus marked an 'historic day, not only for the University of Nottingham and its internationalisation strategy, but for the whole of UK higher education', Dr Christine Humfrey, Director of the University's international office, told the BBC.
The new campus has facilities for 4,000 students. Since September 2004, students have already been following degree programmes taught entirely in English.
The aim is to make it possible for Chinese students to obtain a degree of the same standard and value as the degrees awarded at the UK campus, but at a much lower cost. The university intends to attract students from other countries in order to create a truly international campus.
While Nottingham has been the first university to establish itself in China, the University of Liverpool intends to go still one step further. Liverpool's Vice-Chancellor Drummond Bone has announced that his university too is to establish a university in China, but this institution will be a separate Chinese university and not simply a Chinese campus of the UK institution. The new university will open its doors in September 2006.
The new university will be jointly run with Xi'an Jiaotong University - one of China's best institutions for teaching and research, and has provisionally been names the Liverpool/Xi'an Jiaotong University. The academics will be international, with one third coming from Liverpool, one third from Xi'an Jiaotong, and one third recruited from around the world.
According to Professor Bone: 'This is a new model for a British operation in Higher Education in China - a genuine cooperative venture, not an outpost of a British University, but a new University offering its own degrees, with cutting-edge input from the UK on curriculum development and quality assurance.'