In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of China’s Reform and Opening up, to further promote the cultivation of high-level talents and intensify the exchange and cooperation between Chinese and international universities, International University Presidents’ Conference was held in Nanjing on 4th December, 2008.
This conference was initiated by Mr. Zhang Xinsheng, Vice Minister of Education of P.R. China and Professor Stephen Toope, President of University of British Columbia. Organized by China Scholarship Council and University of British Columbia, over 200 delegates from 24 international universities and 63 Chinese universities (including thirty-eight ‘985 Project’ universities and some ‘211 Project’ universities) attended the conference.
Vice Minister of Education of P.R. China, Chairperson of CSC, Mr. Zhang Xinsheng attended the conference and made a keynote speech. Vice Governor of Jiangsu Province, Mr. He Quan and Mayor of Nanjing City, Mr. Jiang Hongkun were present at the conference and made welcoming addresses.
Mr. Zhang Xinsheng pointed out in his speech that opening up of education is the first step of China’s Opening Up. 30 years ago, Mr. Deng Xiaoping declared the strategic decision of sending Chinese students for overseas education. China, the country of the largest population in the world has developed its own model of modernization, a quite successful case with world recognition. This is hardly separable with the contribution of the returned people with overseas educational experiences and the cooperation with our international partners.
Mr. Zhang Xinsheng mentioned that students’ mobility greatly promotes the mutual understanding and the cooperation of mutual benefits between different countries in the world. From 1978 to the end of 2007, 1.21 million Chinese have been abroad for education, an increase from 860 in 1978 to 144,500 in 2007, a 168-time increase in thirty years. Their destinations have been all around the world, making China the biggest sending country for most of the countries in the world.
In the keynote speech, Mr. Zhang Xinsheng introduced the development strategy of China’s education, particularly in higher education. He also analyzed the opportunities and challenges for education cooperation nowadays. He stressed that globalization makes us believe that countries and universities in different countries are more and more interdependent. We need to learn how to co-exist and strengthen collaboration to face all the challenges. Internationalization of university and exchange of university students and scholars are important parts of China’s higher education, Chinese government will further promote the exchange and cooperation between Chinese and international universities.
President of British Columbia, Mr. Stephen Toope mentioned that China is a important academic, cultural and social partners and the quality of Chinese academic institutions and Chinese education system has been improving quickly in last few years. This conference is aim to enhance exchange and cooperation in postgraduate education as well as in research collaboration, to create new cooperative model to co-development which identify mutual benefits in the higher education system.
Delegates share their experiences and problems in postgraduate education and research collaboration through intensive discussion in breakout sessions. 7 Chinese universities’ delegates from western provinces made presentations of their university profile and collaboration requests.
The conference reached the expected outcomes and issued ‘Communiqué of the International University Presidents Conference’. China Scholarship Council and Chinese universities signed 22 agreements or MOUs with international universities during the conference.v