Q: What are the characteristics of a top-class, international university, and how is Shanghai Jiao Tong University combining the experiences of leading universities with developments in China's higher education sector?
A: The common features of top universities include having top-tier academic leaders in their faculties, making substantial contributions to the development of human societies, social progress and national prosperity, and being able to do disruptive and original research. Today, globalization has become a fundamental characteristic of the world's leading universities. By positioning their mission at the global level, top universities can attract the best students, faculty members and education resources. They can produce the best talent and cutting-edge research that benefits society.
To become a global leader, a university in an emerging economy needs to serve the national strategy and focus on solving major theoretical and practical issues in social economic development. At the same time, the university needs to keep an open mind and seek opportunities for reform to promote progress.
How is your university positioning itself while adopting an international strategy?
A: Internationalization is a hallmark of the university. As a major development strategy, it has been implemented throughout the university's operations. Each school or department is required to identify an international top-level institution as a benchmark. SJTU was among the first Chinese universities to have initiated overseas recruitment back in 2007, which attracted a large number of overseas talents in its faculty.
Can you introduce the international cooperation and exchange projects that are being carried out by your university?
A: Adopting a global outlook has become central to Shanghai Jiao Tong University's education philosophy. Through partnering with top overseas universities, a number of joint institutes and projects have been established in recent decades. Foreign experts and teachers have become an important part of the faculty.
How has Shanghai Jiao Tong University created a multicultural atmosphere?
A: A diversified multicultural experience is key to cultivating a global perspective in students, so we work to increase the two-way international flow of students and faculty, trying to create an open and multicultural environment.
The college has established partnerships with more than 150 overseas universities and more than 30 exchange partners. Substantial collaboration has been established with the world's leading universities such as Oxford, Yale and Michigan. More than a quarter of the teachers hold overseas doctorates, and more than 60 percent of them have at least one year's studying and/or working experience overseas. Last year, more than 4,000 of our faculty members made academic visits overseas, while the university received nearly 2,000 visiting scholars. Up to 40 percent of our students have the opportunity to study overseas.
Meanwhile, the number and quality of international students at Shanghai Jiao Tong University have continued to rise in recent years. Last year, 2,596 international students studied here for degrees. The university also has implemented a unified service system in which Chinese students and international students study and live together.
What do you think of the ability of Chinese universities to innovate? And how is Shanghai Jiao Tong University promoting scientific innovation?
A: It's true that there is still a gap between Chinese universities and the world's leading universities in their innovation capacity. But looking back over the last few decades, China's higher education sector has many great achievements, and a number of high-level universities have emerged that have made breakthroughs in their innovation capacity and made great contributions to the country's prosperity.
Shanghai Jiao Tong University is one of them and is among the fastest-growing universities in China. In the QS World University Rankings for 2014/15, we ranked 70th. And 16 disciplines offered at the university have entered the global top 1 percent of Thomson Reuters' Essential Science Indicators. Among them, engineering, materials, computer science and mathematics have entered the global top 100. This reflects the transition of China's higher education sector from follower to leader.
Following the country's innovation-driven development strategy, and serving Shanghai's goal of building itself into a global science and technology hub, Shanghai Jiao Tong University will constantly seek innovative reform and promote long-term self-development.
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