Far-sighted strategy: University of Derby is reaping the rewards of its hard work with Chinese counterparts
Primary focus is to deliver innovations in business through collaboration with academic institutions
Country Business Reports interviews and articles by Discovery Reports www.discoveryreports.com
A great number of British universities are collaborating with counterparts in China, but few have been as determined as the University of Derby. As a signatory to a memorandum of agreement signed in June by Britain’s Derbyshire county and China’s Anhui province, the University of Derby has gained remarkable access to a wider range of exchanges relating to education, culture, business, industry and technology. This is all in line with the university’s commitment to provide students with real-world learning opportunities.
“What we have been striving to accomplish as part of our international strategy is new,” says Professor Judith Lamie, pro-vice-chancellor for external affairs. “The University of Derby is at the forefront of bringing together business, industry and education in Britain, and we are keen to explore how we may develop that overseas with key international partners.”
Aside from the agreement with Anhui province, the University of Derby has been busy with other initiatives, including hosting global conferences on cloud computing and big data systems with Tongji University. In September this year, senior representatives from the University of Derby took part in a high-level government delegation to Shanghai, with the primary focus of delivering innovations in business through collaboration with academic institutions.
The activities are not one-sided. In August this year, a delegation of teachers from Xiangdong district went to the University of Derby for a summer programme on the English language and to observe various pedagogies adopted by the university. Meanwhile, overseas online students studying with the University of Derby Online travelled to Derby to personally attend their graduation ceremonies. Some of these students were from Hong Kong.
“It’s an exciting time,” says Lamie, who is also a member of the British Chamber in Hong Kong’s education committee. “Through the strong relations we have already established, and looking at what we have coming up in the next few months, one can see the plans starting to come to fruition.”
China is to gain from all these developments as the University of Derby has a lot to offer. Based in the heart of England, the institution has more than 30,000 students. Its International Student Centre has been ranked No 1 in Britain for two consecutive years, while The Sunday Times ranks the university among the top 10 in Britain for teaching quality. The university’s students benefit from a range of state-of-the-art facilities. For example, it is constructing a £12 million (HK$113 million) STEM building to further enhance its engineering and technology credentials, while forensic students have their own crime scene investigation house where they learn their skills. As a result, 96
per cent of students find a job right after graduation.
The core strength of the University of Derby, however, is its wide exposure to the latest technologies as it has cultivated extensive links with industries that use complex scientific know-how. The institution collaborates with CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, on the ALICE experiment, which uncovers breakthrough information relating to the behaviour of matter at the subatomic level. Lockheed Martin (with the University of Derby being part of its technology cluster on cybersecurity), Roche Pharmaceuticals and other global firms also rely on the university’s expertise on advanced computer science and big data processing and analysis.
As part of its continuing development of strong partnerships in China, the University of Derby will also be taking part in a high-profile, multisectoral delegation that includes business and civic leaders next month. “The development of strong and sustainable partnerships is at the heart of the university’s international strategy,” Lamie says. The University of Derby’s commitment to developing mutually beneficial collaborations is as clear as its commitment to working closely with educational institutions and businesses in China.
University of Derby