On March 29 and March 30, the Times Higher Education China Universities Forum in Nankai University was held in Tianjin. Over 100 leaders from world-renowned universities and institutions of higher education gathered together to discuss the creation of world-class universities in China in the future. At the forum, university presidents from China, Singapore, the Netherlands and Australia engaged in a dialogue about “the next steps for China’s emerging world-class universities”.
Times Higher Education Asia-Pacific editor John Ross hosted the forum. He mentioned that with the globalization of education accelerating, universities of all countries are becoming more active on the world stage to promote their internationalization of talents cultivation and scientific research, and as for the way in which Chinese universities, an important force in the world's higher education, will embrace the world has attracted much attention.
Tan Eng Chye, president of National University of Singapore, was concerned about the challenges presented by the globalization of higher education, especially the changes in talents cultivation. He noted that in spite of the unknown future, it is important to stick to internationalization and globalization and to think about the way of cultivating talents for the future. Higher education should pay more attention to the sustainable development of people and cultivate students who can learn all their lives, so that they will be able to deal with the changing challenges.
Rao Zihe, academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences and former President of Nankai University, believed that the "Double-First Class" initiative can be seen as the “new silk road” in the field of China's higher education. It will lead Chinese universities to the world and build a new type of relationship among world higher education institutions. One hundred years ago, the founder of Nankai University had an international vision and was committed to making Nankai an international university. In spite of all the difficulties, Nankai remains determined and will continue to embrace the world to build a first-class university in the future.
Michael Spence, vice-chancellor of the University of Sydney, held the view that the internationalization of a university is divided into two stages. In the first stage, professors and presidents can participate in international activities to publisize their universities, and they can also join university clubs to carry out inter-school meetings, teacher/student exchanges, joint research and to share educational resources. The second stage requires Chinese universities to break down cultural and political barriers, open in-depth dialogue with other international universities and establish partnerships with them.
Qian Xuhong, president of East China Normal University, thought that world-class universities should contribute to cross-cultural exchanges. He said that Chinese universities are committed to the all-round development of students to realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and to promote the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind. Qian believed that strengthening international exchanges and cooperation with global establishment of cooperative partnerships, leading education revolution to promote the internationalization of Chinese education, such as the compilation of English textbooks and sharing Chinese experience to cultivate cultural exchangers who can undertake the mission of global governance are the ways to realize the internationalization of universities.
Marijk van der Wende, a professor at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, pointed out that Chinese higher education has made remarkable achievements in recent years, but there are still many challenges. She believed that the most successful and powerful higher education system in the world, without exception, is open, and China's higher education is deepening its openness. International cooperation is the best way to help China achieve rapid development. "As it turns out, protectionism and unilateralism of any kind will fail in the end, and strong cooperation will change the world today." She said.
During the Q&A session, some people asked for specific measures or suggestions on sustainable development of human beings. Tan Eng Chye described the efforts of Singapore's education authorities to invest more in education for those who have already worked, as well as the attempts of universities to create re-education programs for undergraduates which last about 20 years, such as continuing to offer free courses.
Answering the question of "how to cultivate talents who can contribute to the world", Michael Spence said that efforts can be made in removing limitation on disciplines, offering students more chances to choose majors, focusing on cultivating students' ability to solve problems and helping students form a cross-cultural vision and thinking, among which the multilingual capacity is indispensable.
It is reported that Nankai University, as a key multidisciplinary and research-oriented university in China, will celebrate its 100th anniversary in October this year. In its 100 years’ development, Nankai continues to integrate into the globalization of higher education and has established in-depth international collaborations by building mutual friendly relationships with over 320 universities and academic institutions worldwide. In the process of "double first-class" construction, Nankai University has developed the "global Nankai" strategy to integrate into globalization in talents, teacher resource, research, campus and reputation.