President of the Liverpool Guild of Students, Sam Butler, reflects on his recent trip to the home of Xi’an Jiatong Liverpool University (XJTLU) in Suzhou, China:
“The University of Liverpool is ranked amongst the top 150 universities in the world. That puts us in the top 1%. We are world leading researchers in subjects as varied as Tropical Medicine, Egyptology and Ageing and Chronic Disease. We are also in the top 0.25% for internationalisation.
“That’s easy to say but what does it mean? Well, it means our staff and students come from around the globe, both physically and virtually, to be a part of our community. We have staff and students from over 200 different countries.
“In a truly modern globalised world, I am indeed sat writing this on my iPad on a flight between Shanghai and Helsinki. We must be ready for the challenges a multi cultural society faces.
“I have no doubt that whatever you are studying you have met, or hopefully befriended, a student or staff member from one of those 200 plus countries. I hope you have experienced the intellectual and social benefits you can gain from working and studying with people from different educational backgrounds, one of them of course being your own employability.
“We do, however, have a particularly special relationship with China. The city of Liverpool is not only twinned with Shanghai but in its heyday as a global maritime port, Liverpool was home to the first Chinese immigrant community in the UK.
“It is with that in mind I would like to explain more about my last week. I have spent the last week in China, in a city called Suzhou, visiting Xi’an Jiatong Liverpool University (XJTLU). In 2006, the University of Liverpool took a historic step to create a legally independent university in partnership with Xi’an Jiatong University. It is the only university of its type in China, and we review each year to ensure the quality of education delivered is the same standard as here. This is the review panel I was lucky enough to be a part of – the first Guild President to do so.
“XJTLU (pictured left) has seen unprecedented growth since it was formed in 2006, going from around 50 students to nearly 9,000 students currently registered across all levels.
“The students enrolling at XJTLU get a degree from both UoL and XJTU, and have the option to spend a period of their degree in Liverpool. Students enrolling at Liverpool also have the option to study for part of their degree in Suzhou, in the shadow of 150 of the Fortune 500 companies who have headquarters within the area. With a population of 6.7 million people, Suzhou is a medium size city around one hour’s drive away from Shanghai.
“This crucial link between the UK and China is an incredible opportunity for you to explore what university education means to you. China does indeed have the second largest economy in the world behind the US, but aside from the employability options available to you it allows East and West to collaborate to achieve the aims of higher education: to change the world around us.
“Whether we are curing malaria in the Institute of Translational Medicine, setting up businesses in the Management School or training our next generation of care workers in Medicine or Dentistry, this is the time to use the huge benefits of our link with XJTLU.
“It is also with this information I am tasking you with thinking. I hope, knowing this, you’ll be fighting to get out and explore, but please take a moment to think what it must be like for those students from around the globe who come to study here in Liverpool. In line with the rest of the Russell Group, around 25% of our student community are international. They have left their families, friends, and home behind to come and take advantage of the world class education students can get here.
“To give an example, we had students studying in Liverpool last year who’s families were involved in tragic circumstances in their home country of Syria. We are part of a student community in Liverpool, one I’m really proud of. I wouldn’t do this job if I wasn’t. I hope you are too, and if you haven’t already, think, and take advantage of the plethora of talent, skills, intellect we are lucky to celebrate as part of this community.”
By Sam Butler, President of the Liverpool Guild of Students