Armed with the objective of broadening and deepening engagements with existing and new leading Chinese partner universities, SMU President, Prof Arnoud De Meyer and a SMU delegation visited four institutions in southern and eastern China from 20 – 24 October 2018, returning with partnerships forged and possibilities brimming. 


Commencing in Xiamen city, Prof De Meyer attended the Inauguration Ceremony of the University Consortium of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (UCMSR) and University Presidents’ Forum on 20 October 2018. As one of the forum’s panelists, he shared distinctive practices initiated or adopted by SMU and presented his views in a speech titled, “Building World-Class Universities: Perceptions and Thoughts” to an international audience of 120 university leaders and senior faculty/administrators from 66 universities in 17 countries. The UCMSR inauguration ceremony was witnessed by Chinese MOE Vice Minister, Zhu Zhiwen; Director of Education Department of Fujian Province, Mr Lin Heping; and Director, Office of the Secretariat-General, The ASEAN Secretariat, Ms Adeline Lee. 




Deepening ties that extend beyond a decade

The strong ties between SMU and Xiamen University (XMU) was certainly evident when Prof De Meyer called on XMU President, Prof Zhang Rong the following day. Collaboration between both universities could be traced back to 2007, with XMU being one of SMU’s earliest partner institutions in China. 


The 11-year relationship had successfully yielded more than 500 XMU graduates from the Master of Science in Applied Finance (MAF) programme, a partnership between SMU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business and XMU’s Wang Yanan Institute for Studies in Economics (WISE).  That said, neither university was one to rest on its laurels. Both university leaders affirmed their commitment to broaden and deepen ties and to explore new areas of partnership.


“We greatly value our longstanding, strong and fruitful ties with XMU and we look forward to taking this partnership to greater heights moving forward,” said Prof De Meyer. The two university leaders discussed opportunities for further collaboration, such as organising a thematic summer programme for select UCMSR member universities; extending the current postgraduate programme partnership to qualified students from XMU’s branch campus in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and co-organising a research seminar on ageing economics.




Marking the start of a new SMU-ZJU collaboration

Upon arriving at Zhejiang University (ZJU) on 23 October 2018, Prof De Meyer and the five-member SMU delegation were warmly welcomed by ZJU Vice President, Prof Yan Jianhua. Significantly, the meeting culminated in the signing of a partnership agreement that marked SMU’s first Doctor of Business Administration (Accounting and Finance Track), or DBA programme, by Prof Cheng Qiang, Dean, SMU School of Accountancy, and Prof Wei Jiang, Dean, ZJU’s School of Management. Enrolment for the pioneer intake of the DBA programme is expected in early 2019. “The signing today adds another new chapter to the burgeoning partnership between ZJU and SMU and we look forward to establishing many more collaborations with SMU in time to come,” said Prof Wei. 



Advancing mutual interests through academic and educational cooperation

Buoyed by the early success, the SMU delegation continued its journey to Nanjing on 24 October 2018, the capital of Jiangsu Province and a historic city as well as a major centre of culture, education, research, politics, economy, transport networks and tourism. Nanjing University (NJU), incepted since 1902, had stood witness to China’s transformation over the past century and made significant contributions to its rapid development in diverse fields, particularly in Science and Technology.


This was one of the areas discussed during Prof De Meyer’s meeting with NJU Executive Vice Chancellor, Prof Yang Zhong. Complimenting NJU for its outstanding academic showing and impressive research output, Prof De Meyer commented, “As a young university, we have many things to learn from NJU. With the signing of the MOU on academic and educational cooperation and a student exchange agreement between our universities, we hope it will pave the way for more collaborations in future.”




Enhancing strong ties in Shanghai

The SMU President-led visit concluded on 24 October 2018 on an equally positive note in Shanghai, where Prof De Meyer called on Fudan University (FDU) Vice President, Prof Chen Zhimin. Both institutions had been working together on areas of mutual interest. Case in point, Prof Bryce Hool, Dean, SMU School of Economics highlighted how researchers from both universities had just exchanged insights on data collected at a joint workshop between the SMU Centre for Research on Economics of Ageing (CREA) under his purview and Fudan’s School of Economics on the very same day. Given the tremendous potential in aligning the research efforts of both schools, Prof Hool underscored SMU’s interest for deeper research collaboration with Fudan in the area of public health. 


The highlight of the visit was the signing of a LLM programme collaboration agreement between SOL and FDU’s Law School. This is the first postgraduate (PG) programme tie-up that SMU forged with FDU, as well as the first PG Law programme offered in collaboration with a leading Chinese partner university.




Renewing bonds via the SMU Xiamen Alumni Chapter

Prof De Meyer also made time to attend the SMU Xiamen Alumni Chapter’s launch event on 21 October 2018, engaging with some 80 alumni who were present for the ceremony-cum-tea reception. The Xiamen Alumni Chapter is SMU’s seventh alumni chapter in China, and the event provided a valued platform for alumni to gain updates on new developments at their alma mater, as well as to renew friendships and build new ones. With strong support from the Singapore Consulate-General in Xiamen, the event also received good coverage by the local print, broadcast and online media. 





[Top Featured photo: SMU President, Prof Arnoud De Meyer, calling on ZJU Vice President, Prof Yan Jianhua on 23 October 2018.]

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