Oxford University vice chancellor hails China links, int'l higher education cooperation

Updated 2018-04-18 16:15:01 Xinhua

The vice chancellor of the University of Oxford has hailed links with top universities in China, saying international collaboration in higher education is critical.

Professor Louise Richardson told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview that Oxford has been working with Chinese universities for 40 years, adding that China's opening up has enriched the world.

Richardson welcomed the many connections and collaborations between academics from Oxford and China.


"My own view is that so many of the problems that we face today, whether they're climate change, disease, terrorism, none of these are confined within national borders."

"Our best chance of forging successful solutions to these problems is to bring together people from different nationalities, different disciplines with a shared focus on the same problem. This kind of international collaboration is critical to what we do here at Oxford," she said.

Oxford accepted its first international student in the 12th century, which makes Chinese students the new kids on the block.

Richardson said she is glad to have Chinese students at Oxford: "We received our first international student in 1,190 and we've been welcoming international students and academics ever since."

Oxford is one of the most international universities in the world. One third of its students, including 17 percent of undergraduates, are international citizens from over 140 countries.

"We have a range of Chinese students, from undergraduates to post graduates. All of them in order to get here are very smart, very ambitious, very driven, and they contribute hugely," said Richardson.

Her hope is that returning Chinese students will continue to interact with Oxford and become lifelong friends of the university.


"We've been doing shared medical research for four decades now, and because of the large population in China it's a very good basis in which to do research for disease," added Richardson, speaking to Oxford's work over many years with the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.

Oxford has recently opened its first overseas research center in the Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) in east China's Jiangsu Province called joint Oxford-Suzhou Center for Advanced Research (OSCAR).

Richardson said the new center was a means of doing research collaboratively with the university's Chinese partners, carrying out research that might not be possible in Britain.


As Chinese students plan their journeys into the world of higher education, Richardson's advice for those aspiring to win places an Oxford or other international universities is: "There are many great universities in the world, and if they don't get into their first choice university, they can still get a fabulous education."

Her message to students is to always follow their passion to study the subject they're interested in.

"I studied on the subject of terrorism when nobody cared about terror and I was advised to drop it," she said.

"I started teaching courses on terrorism in Harvard in the early 1990s, long before the 9/11 attacks. There was always huge student interest, but my colleagues would say 'Louise, you're crazy, you know people don't care, this is such a marginalized field'."

That did not dampen Richardson's enthusiasm or fascination for the subject, and of course after 9/11, it became a central academic subject.

"Work on the issues that you care about, because then you will never feel like you're working," said Richardson.

Richardson, who is the first woman to hold the vice chancellor position at Oxford, was one of seven siblings brought up in Ireland, educated at a secondary school in Waterford before winning a place at Trinity College, Dublin that was her launch pad for a career in academia.

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