The University of Calgary is developing close relationships with various institutions in China. Partnerships were made and old ones strengthened during U of C president Elizabeth Cannon’s May 18–28 visit to Beijing and Hong Kong.
The U of C aims to secure ties with institutions that share mutual goals and to improve the U of C’s international profile by meeting with Chinese regional governments, oil companies and universities.
The U of C is partnered with esteemed schools like Tsinghua University, Shantou University and the University of Hong Kong, as well as oil giants Sinopec and China National Petroleum.
Cannon said strengthening relationships in Asia aligns with the goals in the Eyes High strategic plan of “enhancing the quality of teaching and learning, and to make [the U of C] a top-five Canadian research institution by 2016.”
Much of China’s interest in collaborating with the U of C stems from research being done at the U of C’s Schulich School of Engineering, particularly in oil and gas. This is due to China’s expanding energy needs and investment in Alberta’s oilsands.
Cannon met with leaders of government, industry and academia on her visit. She received a warm welcome from her Chinese hosts.
“Industry leaders spoke highly of our energy research and education programs,” said Cannon. “Chinese industry has made significant investment in energy projects in Alberta, and it is an example of an area that has a real significance for our university and the future of both our nations.”
However, the partnerships do not exclusively deal with the energy sector. The U of C’s faculty of medicine works closely with Capital Medical University in Beijing.
Internationalization efforts like these are common among universities looking to expand their influence and improve their international reputation.
U of C director of international relations Glynn Hunter views internationalization as beneficial not only for faculty, but for students as well.
“If you’re looking at China specifically, what you’re trying to do is make sure you’re finding relationships that provide our students an international experience, or the opportunity for one,” said Hunter. “If you believe that knowledge is global, then you need these connections.”
Although many of these partnerships have been established for several years, the U of C has had a difficult relationship with the Chinese government in the past. The U of C was briefly removed from the list of accredited schools in China after the Dalai Lama was given an honorary degree during his visit to Canada in 2010.
Since then, however, efforts have been made to improve the relationship between the U of C and the Chinese government.
“When [Cannon] became president, one of her first priorities was to look at the relationship with the government of China and to look at repairing that relationship and rebuilding it,” said Hunter.
Ultimately, Cannon said these partnerships will be long term and beneficial for all parties involved.
“China will be a key part of our international strategy and I really look forward to building more partnerships in the future,” said Cannon.