Executive President's letter for XJTLU's 15th anniversary

May 12, 2021

Becoming the Trendsetters of our Time

XJTLU's 15th Anniversary - A letter from the Executive President

Dear Members of the Faculty, Colleagues, Students, and Friends:

The grass grows slowly and birds fly freely in the sky, with a warm breeze softly brushing my face; the vitality of spring is back. At the same time, the 15th anniversary of XJTLU has arrived.

Fifteen years ago, XJTLU – jokingly known back then as the “one-building school” – first set sail. There have been many ups and downs along the way, and the University first tread on rather thin ice when it began. But it was through courage, strategy, wisdom, and wit that the it managed to – in a world full of uncertainties and complexities – overcome its challenges and obstacles, blossoming into the institution it is today.

Today, XJTLU is young and in its prime, drawing wide attention and critical acclaim with its dazzling achievements. We are all, no doubt, filled with joy as we reflect on those precious memories and achievements which are to be shared by everyone at XJTLU.

As we celebrate the 15th anniversary of our University, I would like to extend my most sincere gratitude to the XJTLU community and to everyone who has supported us along the way.

Education is fundamental to our development and future, and thus remains a perennial topic of discussion in each household. As the world transitioned into the industrial age, both the definition and scope of education were greatly limited, deviating from its original purpose. Many disapprove of the utilitarian, short-term and even erroneous paradigms that define education today, yet they are nonetheless trapped in its invisible web, unable to escape. Consequently, there is a growing sense of anxiety and pain amongst parents, students and educators alike. As a result, our society no longer moves forward.

Over ten years ago, and frustrated with the problems of education in China, I was determined to draw up a plan of reform and create a new category of universities suitable for the future. By combining global resources and educational best practices, my hope was to build a university that could go back to its original roots – an institution capable of cultivating global citizens with an international mind-set, an appreciation for the local culture, and with aspirations to change the world. Using the university as a platform, our philosophy could spread to a wider audience, leading to educational reform and promoting innovations. This was my dream – to offer hope to everyone who was desperately looking for a change.

My aspirations back then were undoubtedly ambitious. Some who knew me well were worried whether I could achieve such lofty goals, but many more had questions and doubts – how could XJTLU break away from the status quo? Yet 15 years later, we remain, making history in China, again and again.

The experience at XJTLU has been transformational for our students – the over-pampered young men and women who knew nothing more than exams would quickly turn into capable adults: confident, independent, proactive, responsible and genuine; able to compete against first-rate peers on the world stage, winning awards on renowned academic competitions such as MCM/ICM and iGEM.

In addition, our faculty members constantly look for ever more innovative ways to advance their research, with major breakthroughs in areas that are of great importance for human survival. XJTLU’s innovation competitions, education reform activities and education trainings have brought a sea of changes to education in China, especially our partnerships with leading industry players that have led to the creation of many new industrial ecosystems.

XJTLU’s rapid growth over the last 15 years serves as a testament to the validity of its early strategic positioning, while giving people hope that educational reform in China is possible. Throughout XJTLU’s history, it has remained committed to educational reform and upgrade.

Looking to the future, we will forge ahead without fear, to identify and capture opportunities in a world filled with uncertainty and complexity.
Meanwhile, the pandemic has drastically impacted and transformed the world we once knew, accelerating the transformation and redefinition of the role universities play in education. We have also witnessed the closure and even bankruptcy of renowned, historic universities around the world, with many faculty being deprived of employment. In this unprecedented time, the ability to decipher trends and get ahead of the curve are critical to ensuring individual success.

Yet the future is the collective outcome of constant interactions between individuals, groups and nature; nobody has a crystal ball to see it. Instead, with a forward-looking vision strengthened and tempered with courage, the key issues relevant to the trends and needs of each stage of development can be discovered. From there, step by step, the future can be more than idle fate, but the result of purposeful acts of creation.

As an explorer and reformer, XJTLU views these changes and challenges as opportunities. Trendsetters that we are, we cope with major challenges of our time through bold experiments and innovations. We accomplish these in the manner befitting XJTLU’s spirit; through diversity, innovation, freedom, innovative, cooperation, internalisation, and entrepreneurialism, all based on a foundation of clear rules and regulations. Yet critical to these accomplishments, as well as the XJTLU spirit, is syntegration.

Syntegration, or the use of innovative platforms and models to absorb and draw lessons from all available sources, has long been a part of our University’s genetic makeup. Various resources are combined through syntegration to incubate education and innovation ecosystems, allowing us to reap all their compounded benefits, i.e., “Sharing, Symbiosis and Ecosystem”. Driven by prevailing trends and needs, XJTLU has deployed models 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 over the past 15 years, constantly pushing to new heights.

During the first ten years of our development, XJTLU 1.0 focused on the experimentation of future educational models, combining Western and Chinese educational models in order to build networks of knowledge organisations, cultivate relationships between the University and society-at-large, and exert a strong influence on the development of education in China and the world.

XJTLU took reference from the flexibility offered by the American education system, the emphasis on having a robust quality control system from the British system, and the focus on building fundamentals commonly seen in the Chinese system. XJTLU received critical acclaim and wide recognition both domestically and internationally. We then integrated these features into a new educational and quality control system centring around the needs of students, focusing on guiding interests, learning proactively, cultivating capabilities, integrating knowledge, and improving overall quality.

As the arrival of a digital, AI and robotics-enabled era became imminent, XJTLU looked far into the future and, while continuing to strengthen our existing educational model, launched an entirely new model in 2017 known as Syntegrative Education (SE). This is what we refer to as XJTLU 2.0; a model that delivers international industry experts with the ability to use AI and robotic technologies in order to lead future industry development.

As part of XJTLU 2.0, we deployed the Industry and Enterprise Tailored Education programme to deepen knowledge in relevant industry sectors. In addition, we established the XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang), where we carefully selected a series of disciplines that are expected to have a meaningful impact on human development. We additionally launched various industry-focused academic programmes through strong partnerships with reputable domestic and international companies within these sectors. By combining academics with management and entrepreneurial training, we were able to create a new, customised system that can cultivate high-end and global-minded talents with on-the-ground experience.

Rendering of the future XJTLU Entrepreneur College (Taicang) site

XJTLU 3.0 will redefine its social functions, by acting as the catalyst and connector between the school and society. It will leverage the vast resources that are available to create a new educational ecosystem that promotes life learning, innovation, and entrepreneurship, covering areas including fundamental education, new vocational education, as well as technology and management upgrades.

This latest iteration began with the establishment of the XIPU New Era Development Research Institute in May of 2018. The goal is to leverage XJTLU’s role as an “adhesive agent”, partnering with governments, international industry and finance coalitions to combine social resources and create global education and innovation ecosystems in different regions based on key areas identified by international players.

Despite the pandemic, XJTLU has forged ahead against the tide and accelerated its own development. In May 2020, XJTLU launched the XJTLU Learning Mall, a technology support platform that draws on first-rate global educational resources and integrates online and offline operations, creating a multi-faceted learning environment that spans regions, age groups, levels of education, and interests. The healthcare-focused XJTLU Wisdom Lake Academy of Pharmacy, based in the Yangtze River Delta region, is a flagship project under XJTLU 3.0. To accelerate these initiatives, we will establish XIPU Innovation and Education Colleges in different regions, based on market needs, and create academies that more closely integrate with the society at large when compared with more traditional schools, among other initiatives:

  • Establish the Academy of Future Education in May 2021 by integrating the Institute of Leadership and Education Advanced Development (ILEAD) with the Department of Educational Studies, Education Development Unit and Learning Mall
  • Create the XJTLU-JITRI Academy of Industrial Technology, which will partner with Jiangsu Industrial and Technology Research Institute to create a graduate school department and R&D platform that aims to promote research and innovation
  • Found the Academy of Film and Creative Technology, which will house the School of Cultural Technology (Taicang location), School of Film and TV Arts (SIP location), School of Film (Yangzhou)
  • Promote the newly launched XJTLU 3.0 prototype in the Greater Bay Area – the XIPU Innovation and Education College (GBA) with the first phase to include the XIPU HeXie Education & Ecosystem Management Research Institute, XIPU University-Industry Ecosystem Institute and XIPU-IPwe IP Research Institute.

Dear friends, over the course of our journey the last 15 years, XJTLU has embarked on a unique path of development, where we have been able to incubate and create various ecosystems, driving the reform of education and progress of social innovations. Looking ahead, I cordially invite everyone with a genuine interest in education to join hands, through the XJTLU platform, where together we will continue to innovate and promote the development and upgrade of Chinese and global education.

It is our mission to explore the future and have an impact on education, the mind-set and strategy of integration that help turn XJTLU into a harbinger and reformer of education, one that is courageous and prescient, without fear of risk and challenges. In these uncertain and complex times, we shall overcome challenges and doubts with perseverance and wisdom as we continue to work toward our goals. Together we will make history.

Professor Youmin Xi
Executive President, XJTLU
Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Liverpool

May 12, 2021