Vice-presidents and senior members of 27 mainland universities have made a week-long visit to the University of Reading to expand ties and learn about the British higher education system. Representatives from Beijing, Remin, Wuhan, Beijing Normal and Nanjing universities learned from Reading's management about its policy plans, vision for its future and links with industry. They were also briefed on the funding system and other issues during the visit that could pave the way for ties between British and mainland institutions. Professor Gordon Marshall, vice-chancellor of the University of Reading, said: 'Reading is a world-class teaching and research institution, but we are very aware that we can only maintain that reputation by fostering our links with similar institutions across the globe. 'This visit can only help consolidate the growing relationships between ourselves and Chinese universities, which will be of huge benefit to all concerned.' Furthering ties between Hong Kong, the mainland and European institutions is also an upcoming mission for Hong Kong academic Joshua Mok Ka-ho, associate dean of City University's Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, who will become director of the University of Bristol's newly set-up Centre for East Asian Studies in January. He said he hoped to promote collaborations such as exchanges between Bristol, CityU, and mainland universities such as Tsinghua and Zhongshan, allowing students to study at each other's campus during term time or the summer. 'Mainland institutions are keen to send their staff and students out. They know the inadequacies of their system, like in management. They have to be internationalised to become world-class universities,' he said. Meanwhile, top business school INSEAD is negotiating with several mainland institutions to form partnerships. 'To be the No1 business school in the world, we cannot afford not to have presence in areas like China where businesses are growing so fast,' said its director of communications, Nick Barniville.