UK universities build bridges at Shanghai forum

Education was a key strand of the 2016 UK-China People-to-People Dialogue, which took place in Shanghai from 5 to 7 December, and a high-level forum demonstrated the deepening academic ties between some of the UK and China’s foremost institutions, as well as the commercial power of collaboration in higher education. The China-UK Dialogue on the Humanities in Higher Education was held at the Dongjiao State Guest Hotel in Shanghai on 6 December, sponsored by Fudan University, Tsinghua University and the Universities UK group of institutions, with support from the Chinese Ministry of Education and the British Council.

The humanities theme was chosen to explore how British and Chinese universities can “develop conversations across geographic, generational, and disciplinary boundaries” in an era of economic globalisation. Speakers from Fudan and Tsinghua, two of China’s leading universities, were joined by peers from Oxford University, King’s College London and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) as well as some of the key players in the commercial relationship, including the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC). LSE and Fudan University signed an agreement at the event to jointly establish a College of Global Public Policy, in a further boost for Sino-UK academic exchange. 

The humanities from a commercial perspective

In addition to the academic exchange, Stephen Phillips, chief executive of the China-Britain Business Council, spoke at the forum (above) on the importance of the humanities from a commercial perspective. “Education plays a key role,” said Phillips, speaking in the opening session about the creative sector. “Without a continual flow of talent coming out of our universities, this industry would not thrive in the way it is doing. There is a high degree of complementarity [between UK and Chinese strengths] and we expect to see more and more opportunities for commercial collaboration in the UK, China and around the world.” 

CBBC’s director for education, talent and training, Simon Stewart (above), said that the People-to-People Dialogue was a valuable opportunity for British and Chinese academics to come together in Shanghai to stimulate dialogue and deepen ties. “The study of the humanities is increasingly important in today’s globalised society,” Stewart said after the forum. “At CBBC we work to bridge the education sector with business and we were delighted to be part of this important dialogue.”

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