The University of Liverpool celebrated 10 years since the opening of Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University at a special maritime ceremony at Liverpool’s Mann Island.

Liverpool opened XJTLU in the world heritage city of Suzhou, China, in partnership with Xi’an-Jiaotong University, in 2006. The institution has grown rapidly over the past 10 years, with more than 10,000 students studying across a variety of subjects such as computing, maths, engineering and architecture in Suzhou and in Liverpool.

To celebrate the partnership, which is rooted in the maritime history between Liverpool and China, the University launched a Liverpool-Suzhou narrow boat in the Mann Island canal basin, followed by traditional Chinese dragon dancing and the opening of an ‘XJTLU 10’ display case at Liverpool Museum’s East Meets West exhibit.

The exhibition, part of the Museum’s Global City showcase, explores the 19th century maritime links between South East China and Liverpool, when ships would arrive in the city bringing an influx of goods to trade, as well as Chinese seaman who would eventually settle in Liverpool. Over time, these seamen established what would become the oldest and one of the largest established Chinatowns in Europe.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, Professor Janet Beer, officially ‘blessed’ the boat, called ‘Liverbird of Suzhou,’ before it sets off on the second part of its journey from Britain to XJTLU in Suzhou.

Liver birds are the symbol of the city of Liverpool. While not a real species of bird, it has an appearance similar to that of a cormorant. Its origin is subject to many myths and legends. The image of a liver bird is used on the University of Liverpool and XJTLU's crests as well as on the logo of Liverpool Football Club.

Professor Beer said: “Our celebrations of XJTLU represent how much we value our students and partnership with China. The gift of a narrow boat will be a lasting representation of our history together and will provide a unique event space for students and staff at both universities.

“As a global university it is our ambition to offer international opportunities in an ever-more globalised world. Our partnership with Xi’an-Jiaotong University makes us uniquely placed to provide a truly trans-national education.”

Higher education is the UK’s most successful export industry, contributing around GBP5 billion each year to the UK economy. XJTLU is based in Suzhou Industrial Park, one of Asia’s most successful business parks, a hub for foreign investors, and home to more than 3,000 international organisations, including 84 Fortune 500 companies.

Executive President of XJTLU, Professor Xi Youmin, said: “As we celebrate the extraordinary first 10 years of XJTLU, we also anticipate an exciting future, with yet more expansion planned. Phase one of our South Campus will open in July with five new buildings that will help continue the tradition of East-West dialogue by expanding our capacity for international cooperation in research, knowledge exchange and innovation. Later phases will include state-of-the-art facilities for XJTLU’s International Business School Suzhou and a brand new school of film and television arts.”

In the past year the University has also celebrated the launch of its first ‘Year in China’ programme, which allows undergraduate students, from a wide-range of departments at Liverpool, the opportunity to spend a year studying at XJTLU. Students are able to complement their degree with the study of Chinese language, politics culture and history.

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