September 5, 2017, by Liz Cass

The world comes to Nottingham

Xu Yafen and Professor Sir David Greenaway

The University of Nottingham is celebrating a week of global partnerships honouring high profile guests from around the world.

An unprecedented number of international delegations will be held both on the University’s campuses in Nottingham and in London this week.

Connections with China have started with a visit from Mme Xu Yafen, Chair of the Zhejiang Wanli Education Group (WEG), and His Excellency Liu Xiaoming, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China.

There will also be celebrations of the University’s partnerships with Brazil, visits to a local school, Global talent events in London and a Nottingham-China celebration to mark 10 years of the Nottingham Confucius Institute.

On Monday the Amenities building on the University’s Jubilee campus was named in honour of Mme Xu Yafen.

Mme Xu sits on the management board at the University of Nottingham Ningbo and played a pivotal role in its creation. She became a party member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1981 and is a representative of the eleventh CPC Congress of Zhejiang Province and a member of Zhejiang CPPCC Committee. She is cited as one of China’s Outstanding Women.

Xu Yafen and Professor Sir David Greenaway 

Xu Yafen and colleagues

Professor Chris Rudd, Xu Yafen and Professor Sir David Greenaway

John Mills, Professor Sir David Greenaway

She founded the Wanli Education Group, which partners UNNC and has a national reputation for academic excellence.

She said: “I am very appreciative of his noble honour. Wanli Education Group was honoured to cooperate with the University of Nottingham in founding China’s first independent sino-foreign university- the University of Nottingham Ningbo China. This university has been recorded as one of the 60 greatest events in China’s history of education.  I believe that with our joint efforts the University of Nottingham Ningbo will continue to be the beautiful British rose in glorious bloom in China.

“The University of Nottingham Ningbo has become the bridge of friendship between China and the UK. Liu Yandong, deputy prime minister, during her visit to UNNC said that cooperation is based on communication.  The University of Nottingham Ningbo strengthens this communication and friendship between governments, its people and our two countries.”

World Rankings

The week also marked Nottingham’s place in the top 150 universities in the world according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The league table shows Nottingham maintaining its position of 147th place in the world and climbing up a place to be 21st in the UK.

Honorary Degree

His Excellency Liu Xiaoming

Liu Xiaoming’s links with the University of Nottingham began soon after he became Ambassador.

In 2010, he made his first visit to Nottingham City and to the University of Nottingham. Accompanied by the Vice-Chancellor, he visited the Confucius Institute and met with key staff members. In the Sir Colin Campbell Building, he later gave a speech to formal audience of the University on China’s Role in Global Economic Growth. In addition, he emphasised the role of language and culture in fostering mutual understanding and friendship.  This partnership has flourished in the years that followed.

While visiting Nottingham this week His Excellency took the opportunity to visit the Dinosaurs of China exhibition hosted at Nottingham Lakeside Arts and Wollaton Hall.

The exhibition, made possible through the connections of Dr Wang Xi and a partnership between Nottingham City Council and the University of Nottingham, features fossils and specimens never seen outside of Asia and brings to life the story of how dinosaurs evolved into the birds that live alongside us today.

The ambassador’s commitment to education was also recognised in an honorary degree ceremony where he was made a Doctor of Laws.

HE Liu Xiaoming and Professor Sir David Greenaway

Distinguished guests at the degree ceremony

Visiting the Dinosaurs of China exhibition at Nottingham Lakeside Arts

At the ceremony held on Wednesday 6 September in the Great Hall, Professor Kevin Lee, Head of the School of Economics, gave the oration and cited Liu Xiaoming as one of the world’s greatest diplomats.

He said: Vice-Chancellor, we have with us today one of our world’s great diplomats, a leader who has done so much to create harmony in Sino – UK relationships, and in the process supported our University in its endeavours to contribute to education in China; to you and to the whole congregation I present His Excellency LIU Xiaoming as eminently worthy to receive the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.”

In return the ambassador said he was; ‘deeply moved’ to be given the honour adding it was a recognition of the ongoing work of the Chinese Government.

He said: “Education is the highlight of Sino-UK golden era relations, and Nottingham is the leader of the education exchange between China and the UK.”

Times Higher Awards

Nottingham’s links with China were once again highlighted on Thursday (7 September) with the news that the our collaboration with Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TUTCM), to launch the first joint UK-China pharmacy undergraduate degree programme has been shortlisted for International Collaboration of the Year. The programme is one of two shortlisted in the Times Higher Education awards.

Global connections

A series of further celebrations are set to take place throughout the week including the Nottingham Business School China Research Conference at Jubilee campus, the Nottingham Talent Reception, held in London and the ten year celebrations of the NCI, held at Asia House, London.

Staff at the University’s online magazine of the Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies were also celebrating after reaching a record 10,000 viewers in August- with US, UK and India in the top three countries accessing it.

Global Coverage

Coverage of the week’s events has drawn interest from media around the world.

In total there were more than 13 articles published reaching an audience of more than 4.5 million people.

Highlights included:

China Daily, 6 September 2017: The University of Nottingham marked its strong links with China by conferring an honorary doctorate degree on the country’s ambassador to the UK. Liu Xiaoming, who has been China’s senior diplomat in Britain since 2009, received a Doctor of Laws on Wednesday in recognition of his contribution to Sino-UK relations and his support for the University’s endeavours to contribute to education in China. “We wanted to recognise Ambassador Liu’s achievements in promoting education cooperation between our two countries, but also helping us to build links in China,” said Professor Sir David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham.

Ningbo Daily (China), 6 September 2017: On September 4 at 1pm, the University of Nottingham unveiled a building named “Xu Yafen”, in honour of Ms. Xu Yafen and to promote the Sino-British collaboration to the contribution of higher education. It is reported that this is the University of Nottingham’s first building named after a Chinese woman.

The Nottingham Post, 7 September 2017: The Chinese ambassador was given an honorary degree from the University of Nottingham as they celebrated their global connections. The University is celebrating its global partnerships this week with visits from high-profile Chinese guests.

Liu Xiaoming, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, and Mme Xu Yafen, who is a representative in the Chinese congress and has been cited as one of China’s Outstanding Women, according to the University, both visited the city earlier this week. The Chinese Ambassador was also made Doctor of Laws during an honorary degree ceremony and visited the Dinosaurs of China exhibition.

Xiandaijinbao, 6 September 2017 The University of Nottingham has named a complex building “Xu Yafen”, who becomes the first Chinese woman in the University of Nottingham’s 130 years history to have a building named after her. 13 years ago, Xu Yafen became China’s first independent legal person, at the independent campus of the Sino-foreign cooperative university – Ningbo Nottingham University, so that Chinese students can enjoy the world-class university quality education resources.

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