UK universities a 'catalyst' in China's economy - diplomat

Brian Davidson
12 May 2011 11:30:00.000


British universities in China are set to play a much larger role as a catalyst for China’s development as it enters a new era of advanced manufacturing and greater innovation across its economy.

That was the message from Brian Davidson, UK Consul-General in Shanghai, speaking at The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China where he outlined the vision for economic and academic co-operation between the UK and China.

He said the UK wanted the comprehensive two-way academic and commercial relationship between the UK and China to be comparable to relationships between the UK and the US, and the UK and strong EU partners such as France and Germany.

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Speaking at the launch of the University’s International Centre for Professional Development, Mr Davidson said that UK universities in Ningbo, Suzhou and Shanghai are “now ready to take a leading role in shaping the next stage of the UK-China relationship”.

The next step, he said, is “not about education as an end in itself, but applying that education to China’s – and the world’s – needs”.

“We’re at a time in the UK relationship where the emphasis on low-cost manufacturing is fading, and where the trend is towards increasing collaboration and joint creation of new technologies for exploitation both in China and for the world,” said Mr Davidson.

In order to achieve that transformation, he noted, new skills sets are required. “I know China is a fast adopter of new skills, as is the UK,” he said.

As China makes the leap into advanced manufacturing and services that the UK has already made, the UK “can’t stand still”.

“Global value chains always require new and flexible approaches and we have to be at the forefront of change and well-judged risk-taking if we want to remain world class. So we need to move at the same pace,” said Mr Davidson.

“Moving up the value chain is something many of China’s large companies have the cash and desire to do, but many also consistently tell me they lack the confidence in their managerial and professional skills to make the global investment decisions that would move them up the value chain,” he said.

The University of Nottingham, with its strong physical presence in China, is able to play a catalyst role in china’s value chain and create new joint intellectual property through open innovation on a “comprehensive scale”, said Mr Davidson.

The University’s International Centre for Professional Development – which will facilitate registration of China’s professionals with international accreditation bodies – is a “major building block” to “provide China with the essential skills it needs for the future”.

“UK professional institutions, such as the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), in accounting already have a strong reputation in China,” he pointed out.

Mr Davidson added that there is huge scope to bring the full range of the UK’s world-renowned professional and Chartered institutions into the UK-China relationship, with The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China a “shining example of the best we can achieve through partnership”.

Professor Nick Miles, Provost and CEO of The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China, said the International Centre for Professional Development “supports the development of innovative, practical and versatile professionals”.

“Through collaboration with professional institutions, we want to link academic study and professional career development. We want to promote international engineering standards in China and enhance co-operation between Chinese engineers and international professional bodies,” he said.

The work of the new centre would contribute to enhancing the skills and competencies of the local and regional workforce and, for individuals, the university would develop a range of pathways to professional membership and qualifications, said Professor Miles.

The International Centre for Professional Development, which has the full backing and support of the Chinese authorities and is developing links with a range of international professional organisations, complements the University’s engineering offering.

Professor Gethin Wyn Roberts, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China said: “In a highly competitive, globalised world it has become essential for engineers everywhere to have deep knowledge of the latest research and technological breakthroughs and the most rigorous quality and safety standards.

“Accreditation with international bodies is important when competing for major contracts. Engineers in China increasingly recognise this and require internationally-excellent professional development, which we can now provide,” he said.

Professor Roberts said the University’s cutting-edge engineering research will feed into training programmes offered by the International Centre for Professional Development, which include: short courses and seminars at The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China as well as e-learning courses and workplace training sessions.

“Engineering is one of the strongest faculties at The University of Nottingham. With excellent local and international links, Nottingham graduates receive the best education and are among the most sought-after in the world,” said Professor Roberts.

“About eight out of 10 of our engineering undergraduate students are employed within six months of graduating from our UK campus, while all students from our Ningbo campus are employed or go on to higher studies within six month of graduation,” he added.

— Ends —

Notes to editors:
The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. More news from the University at:

Story credits

For more information please contact: Professor Gethin Wyn Roberts, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China on +86(0) 574 8822 2623; Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China on +86(0) 574 8822 2623;; or Jackie Hadland, Communications Officer, The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China on +86 (0) 574 8818 0940, +86-134 2935 5876, , Communications Officer, The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China on +86 (0) 574 8818 0940, +86-134 2935 5876,
Tim Utton

Tim Utton - Deputy Director of Communications

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8092 Location: University Park

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