Earlier this year, on May 22nd, Professor Jon Frampton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Director of the China Institute at University of Birmingham, had already met with SCU’s Vice President Yan Shijing for a signing ceremony that marked an important step in the collaborative relationship of several years between the two universities. The University of Birmingham, which prides itself on being “the global university at the heart of an ambitious city,” and rightfully so, shares several features with Sichuan University, which has recently been selected for the “dual-world-class university construction” project, which sets Chinese universities on the track of establishing themselves and their top disciplines as internationally competitive and top-ranking: both institutions can boast an over 100-year history, both are comprehensive universities with large student bodies and fine research traditions, and both institutions have strong engineering and medical science programs.
On November 15th, Professor Frampton and Vice President Yan met at SCU’s Wangjiang Campus again, this time to sign a cooperation agreement to further promote student exchanges and develop their research partnership in the areas of hydraulic and hydro-electric engineering, as well as chemical engineering. Birmingham and SCU have agreed to establish a “3+2” combined Bachelor’s and Master’s exchange program, which will benefit students from both universities and open up significant opportunities for in-depth academic collaboration and exchange. Both leaders spoke of their hopes to expand the partnership in various areas, including summer course programs, faculty exchanges, and joint research endeavours.
Vice President Yan opened the recent meeting by welcoming Professor Frampton to Chengdu once again. The two scholars had just returned from a tour of two departments in the School of Chemical Engineering, which gave them a lot to discuss. That morning, SCU and the University of Birmingham had also launched a joint research centre established to devote itself to researching rare diseases and clinical applications in genomic sciences, which Frampton, himself a stem cell biologist, was visibly excited about. Vice President Yan offered a brief overview of the cooperative relationship between the two sides, which dates back to 1985, and highlighted the significant progress Sichuan University had made over the last year in its capacity to conduct research on clean energy, water provision, and damn construction. SCU’s College of Water Resources and Hydrolic Power has made some highly substantive contributions in this field, offering real solutions for Sichuan Province and advancing ground-breaking scientific research. Vice President Yan also drew attention to the important breakthroughs in precision medicine that the collaborative efforts between SCU and the University of Birmingham have helped to bring about. Looking ahead, Yan hopes that the two institutions will continue this impressive track record, with the next step being the “2+1” PhD exchange student program in water resources and chemical engineering. The two universities, Vice President Yan stated, had a lot to learn from each other. Yan noted the sophistication and established tradition of the University of Birmingham, one of the top-ranking institutions of higher learning worldwide and member of the Russell Group.
Professor Frampton was glad to be back in Chengdu:
“Sichuan University is a great university, and we wish to work more closely with you beyond the cooperation we have already established… You mentioned that the University of Birmingham can help you, but I’d like to say that it also works the other way: we can also improve through our relationship with SCU.”
Frampton stressed that the signing ceremony was not just about agreeing to register each other’s students, but also about the faculty and researchers of both universities actively and constructively working together:
“We will also cooperate on joint scientific projects. Academics from West China Hospital will be coming to Birmingham in the next few months to work out the details of the research projects that will be launched with the new centre.”
Professor Frampton was enthusiastic about the prospects of scientific collaboration and mentioned that during his visit to the School of Chemical Engineering he had “had a lot of fun” and “felt like a young researcher again.” He was deeply impressed by SCU’s model of Sichuan’s dams and rivers, and the number of fascinating, large-scale research projects.
Both Vice President Yan and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Frampton took the opportunity of this meeting to introduce their universities’ respective summer programs and encourage more participation in inter-collegiate exchanges. In this connection, Frampton also noted SCU’s standing as one of Birmingham’s “strategic global partners,” of which, he said, “SCU is a valuable one.” Yan in turn suggested an annual meeting of faculty of both universities coming together for academic dialogue and exchange, an idea that Frampton welcomed.
The meeting was concluded with the signing of the cooperative agreement by the two sides. Both university leaders look forward to deepening their friendship and collaboration in the coming years.