A delegation from the British Consulate Shanghai recently visited Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University to meet with Professor Youmin Xi, XJTLU Executive President; Professor Stuart Perrin, Associate Principal of XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang); and Professor David Goodman, Vice President for Academic Affairs.

The group (pictured below, starting from the second on the left) consisted of: Jane Lu, Senior Regional Cities Officer (Jiangsu); Waikit Ho, Outreach-Bilateral Consul; Christopher Wood, British Consul-General; Stephen Brennan, Science and Technology Consul; Gill Caldicott, Area Director, East China and Consul (Culture and Education); and David Wang, Head of Partnerships.

Professor Xi told the British delegation about XJTLU and its growth over the past decade and a half, and spoke about the future of education.

“We are trying to transition away from passive learning to a more active, research-led approach,” he explained. “What’s the right educational system for the university of the future? And what’s the right relationship between a university and the community?”

Professor Xi discussed the University’s responses to these questions, namely the XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang) and the XJTLU Learning Mall, and mentioned a few exciting upcoming projects, such as the recent partnership with Enlight Media and Jiangdu District to develop a film academy, as well as the Academy of Pharmacy, formally launching in November.

“Your ambitions for the future and your new way of thinking are very impressive,” Consul-General Wood (pictured below) told Professor Xi. “I look forward to seeing how the University develops over time. And visiting the Entrepreneur College when that's up and running.”

Culture and Education Director Caldicott said she was interested by the School of Cultural Technology in XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang), and was impressed with the forward-thinking mindset of the School. “The creative sector has been a huge revenue earner in the UK,” she said, “and it has huge potential here in China.”

Professor Perrin of XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang) explained that as a relatively new university located in China, XJTLU has the ability to maximise fertile fields of study. “If we see an area with great potential for a useful degree, such as cultural technology, we can react quickly to develop it,” he said.

Brennan, the Science and Technology Consul, commented on the effect that COVID-19 has had on travel and study abroad, and said he was impressed with the speed of response of many schools in China to adapt to a new way of delivering education.

Professor Goodman concurred. “Technology is enabling new opportunities and new ways to communicate with and learn from international players. We’ve lost the ability to move freely, but we’ve gained the ability to interact. We just need to change our mindsets,” said Professor Goodman.

“And the mindsets that need changing are often not the students themselves, but the lecturers and parents,” said Professor Perrin. “Technology has always existed, but it took COVID-19 for many universities to change their thinking in order to maximise it.”

“It seems like many universities are thinking about a return to normal. But there isn’t really a normal to return to,” Professor Goodman explained.

After the meeting, the delegation was given a tour of the campus.

By Patricia Pieterse

Photos by Yanying Ni

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