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Global university consortium set up in China

A global consortium of universities has been established with a ceremony in Xiamen, in the Fujian province of China, under the name of University Consortium of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

The launch ceremony in Xiamen. Photo: University Consortium of 21st Century Maritime Silk Road

The network was launched as a component of the Belt and Road Initiative

The consortium will be coordinated by Xiamen University and its members will include universities from Europe, Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the US, for a total of 60 institutions.

The network was launched as a component of the Belt and Road Initiative, the China Daily reported, and at the ceremony members issued a declaration calling for deepened cooperation in shared educational resources, higher education, and scientific research.

“The city of Xiamen…plays a leading role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative”

The University of Sheffield, one of four British institutions to join the consortium, was represented by president and vice-chancellor Keith Burnett at the opening ceremony. He gave a keynote address on the theme of academic research engagement with industry.

“As well as opening up opportunities for academic and student collaboration and exchange, an audience of leading universities and influencers in China have also heard more about the outstanding work taking place in Sheffield,” Burnett said in a statement, commenting on the ceremony.

The city of Xiamen, he added, is a “fitting host” for the establishment of the consortium.

“The city of Xiamen was one of China’s original four special economic zones opened to foreign investment and trade in the early 1980s and today it plays a leading role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative” Burnett said.

“For that reason, it is a fitting host to a consortium dedicated to productive international partnerships between leading universities as we work together on the great challenges we face as local communities and as countries.”

The University of Sheffield, currently hosting 3,419 Chinese students, already collaborated with a number of universities in the consortium. The ambition, the institution said in a statement, is that the consortium will strengthen existing partnerships and create new opportunities for collaboration.

The other British institutions that have joined the Consortium are the Universities of Cardiff, Newcastle and Southampton.

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