Sheffield and Shanghai universities agree undergraduate exchanges

Updated 2017-04-13 13:30:25

Sir Keith Burnett and Professor Zhen Huang, vice-president for international affairs at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, sign the exchange agreement.

The University of Sheffield and China's Shanghai Jiao Tong Universityhave signed an agreement to begin exchanges of students, a further strengthening of Sheffield's China program, which is among the most active in British education.

The exchange will provide Shanghai Jiao Tong undergraduates with opportunities to study abroad at a leading research university. Similarly, students attending the university in South Yorkshire will get a chance to learn at an institution ranked in China's top 10 that is in one of the world's major metropolitan cities.

The program will be available to students across all disciplines. Sheffield expects most interest from China to be directed at its engineering and mechanical engineering departments.

Sir Keith Burnett, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said the agreement augments the university's close relationship with China.

"I'm delighted that now our students will also be able to experience one another's universities," he said.

The University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and Shanghai Jiao Tong University are collaborators on a joint research institute, the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology.

Located in the historic heart of the UK's steel industry, the University of Sheffield is known for its advanced manufacturing, and the SAST will work on the development of thin-walled structures for rockets in China's space program.

As well as the SAST institute, Sheffield agreed last year to form a research institute with Nanjing Tech University, from East China's Jiangsu province. It will offer courses in chemistry, financial mathematics, and materials physics.

Sheffield is home to 2,800 Chinese students and is the fourth most popular choice among Chinese students among Russell group institutions, a self-selected association of 24 public research universities in the United Kingdom.

Burnett, who speaks Mandarin, founded the Sheffield China Gateway scheme, which is being developed with the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce to attract and support inward investment and Chinese businesses.

Last year, China's Sichuan Guodong Construction Company announced plans to invest 1 billion pounds (.25 billion) during the next 60 years into the city of Sheffield, the biggest-ever Chinese investment into the UK outside London.

The initial investment will be 220 million pounds during three years and will reportedly involve a major hotel development, student accommodation, retail structures and leisure space.

Burnett said: "China is a quarter of the world's population and we face many similar challenges around energy, sustainable jobs and healthcare as our populations age. If we can pool our expertise and energy over years and decades, we have the potential to do real good in the world and to bring a powerful boost to the future economy of the UK's Northern Powerhouse."

The Northern Powerhouse is a development plan that was started by the previous Conservative government that is aimed at boosting the economy and transport links in the North. It is chaired by former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

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