Forum: The Future of Higher Education held in Beijing

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In the upcoming age of artificial intelligence, how can higher education lead the trend with prospective insights and develop international talents who are able to promote the development of future industries based upon their knowledge of AI and robotics?

‘Forum: The Future of Higher Education’, which was held by Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University at China National Convention Centre in Beijing, attracted approximately 400 attendees to discuss the present situation and future prospects of higher education in China in the age of AI.

The attendees included XJTLU alumni, experts from the fields of education, technology, industry, and the media, and parents of high school students who were concerned about education.

President Xi Jinping emphasised in the academician conference of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering that information and intelligence technology should be applied to the development of a ‘new momentum’ which would promote the deep integration of the internet, big data, AI, and the economy.

In April 2018, the Ministry of Education issued the ‘Higher Education Artificial Intelligence Innovation Plans’, which made arrangements for the development of AI in the field of higher education. ‘Forum: The Future of Higher Education’ was held against such a background which reflects the influence of AI upon higher education and explores the future development of universities.

In terms of how higher education should change with the trends of the times, XJTLU, established jointly by Xi’an Jiaotong University and the University of Liverpool in 2006, has proved itself an effective practitioner and explorer of new educational models.

Professor Youmin Xi (pictured above), executive president of XJTLU and vice president of the University of Liverpool, pointed out the following in his speech ‘The Education in the AI Era: the mission of XJTLU’:

“Facing the impact of AI and robotics in the future, humanity’s survival strategy needs to be rethought, the conception of what ‘talent’ and ‘ability’ is needs to be adjusted, the ideas of education need to be changed, the process of education and teaching methods need to be reshaped, and the modes to develop different kinds of talents need to be reformed,” said Professor Xi.

“Timely actions should be taken in education to handle the subversive transformation of the AI society,” he added.

Facing the challenges and opportunities of the times head-on, XJTLU has always come up with its own solutions. During the first decade of its existence, ‘XJTLU Version 1.0’ established an innovative educational model for cultivating international specialised elites.

“However,” said Professor Xi, “in the future society, especially with the revolution in AI and robotics, the in-demand talents will be global citizens with cross-cultural leadership skills, and highly interdisciplinary talents who can harness the new industries,” said Professor Xi.

“We put forward our prospective XJTLU plans targeted at the above proposition and are starting a brand new XJTLU development ‘Version 2.0’,” he continued. “Our educational exploration covers four areas: an educational model to cultivate international specialised elites; the establishment of model to develop international syntegrative elites; the conceptualization and demonstration of the university and campus of the future; and the creation of an innovative community that is sharing and symbiotic between the University and society.”

During the forum, Dr Huaiming Song (pictured above), chief engineer of the big data and innovation division of Sugon, Dr Xiaochun Chen (pictured below), co-founder of Silicon Valley incubator Plug and Play China, and Dr Deng Fan, initiator of the Spiritual Wealth Club, all delivered keynote speeches from different professional perspectives, offering their ideas about AI and educational reform.

Dr Fan thought that one of the most important goals for universities should be to create a space and an ecology for developing students’ thinking habits and lifelong growth.

“At XJTLU, every module is a power source and each module opens a window for the students,” said Dr Fan (pictured below). “It is enough for a student to really love one module, because you may probably become expert in this field,” he said.

After the keynote speech session, the guests were invited to a round-table forum, titled ‘Higher Education Reform in the Era of Artificial Intelligence’, where sparks of thought collided and interchanged.

There were further speeches in the second half of the forum: Professor Jean Chen, dean of International Business School Suzhou at XJTLU, introduced the educational achievements IBSS has made in the five years since its establishment; Dr Qijian Xie, deputy director of the Student Management Centre, delivered a speech focused on student recruitment in Beijing; and XJTLU alumna Jiajun Bu shared her experience of study and life at XJTLU.

‘Forum: The Future of Higher Education’ was hosted by Professor Qiuling Chao, vice president of XJTLU, and Dr Xin Bi, deputy director of the Centre for Knowledge and Information at XJTLU. The official corporate video of XJTLU was also formally launched at the beginning of the forum.


By Luyun Shi and Xiaowan Yuan
Translation by Boqiang Xiao; edited by Guojuan Wang and Danny Abbasi

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