Leeds sets up joint school with Chinese engineering powerhouse

Leeds and China's Southwest Jiaotong University (SWJTU) today launch a joint school to deliver world-class teaching and research in engineering.


The SWJTU-Leeds Joint School, based in Chengdu, China, will offer a unique UK-Chinese engineering curriculum and is the first overseas school to be set up by the University. 

Starting in September 2016, it will recruit 1,200 of the brightest high school students in China over four years and enable the University to tap into a key market that could develop some of the academics and industry leaders of the future. 

Leeds students based in the UK will also have the opportunity to attend the joint school in the coming years, and the universities plan to extend the partnership to include collaboration on postgraduate education and research. 

Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the joint school following its formal launch in Chengdu: "This partnership will cultivate global talent and build strong connections between the UK, China and other parts of the world, addressing future skills requirements and opening up new research opportunities.

"For this reason, the school will not only benefit Chinese and British students, providing them with a unique experience as they access an enhanced curriculum and study abroad, but also the business community and the wider economy in China and the UK."

Speaking ahead of the launch on 30 October in Chengdu, Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands said: “Leeds excels in engineering and we want to build our international reach and profile by working in powerful combination with SWJTU, which has particular strengths in transport-related engineering. This school enables us to do just that in a key market. 

“It means the brightest students will benefit from the very best of Chinese and British higher education, giving them the distinctive edge to compete on the global stage and providing Leeds with links to some of the very best future engineering talent in China.” 

President Xu Fei, from SWJTU, said: “The SWJTU-Leeds Joint School is committed to nurturing innovative talents and future leaders, with international competitiveness and cross-cultural leadership.” 

Students of the school will earn dual degrees from both the University of Leeds and SWJTU. They will primarily follow the Leeds syllabus in the English language but also take additional SWJTU courses to earn the dual degree qualifications. 

Professor Peter Jimack, Dean of Engineering, said: “Our students will have a thorough technical education but, in addition, will follow a curriculum designed to develop their independent problem solving skills, abilities to collaborate effectively in international teams, and present technical material in written and spoken English. They will be uniquely prepared for the realities of working in international industry and research. 

“Although the initial focus will be on our students based in China, the school will follow the same curricula that we have developed in Leeds, so we anticipate that UK-based students will also spend time studying in China to benefit from the joint-school’s great strengths.”

The joint school will initially offer four undergraduate degree programmes: 

  • BEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering
  • BEng Mechanical Engineering
  • BSc Computer Science
  • BEng Civil Engineering with Transport

Although many students will spend the whole of their four-year courses in Chengdu, where they will be given intensive language education, some students will study for one or more years in Leeds. Teaching will be delivered by a combination of Leeds, SWJTU and newly recruited Joint School staff. 

Professor Jimack added: “Both Leeds and SWJTU have outstanding reputations for engineering and computing education, research and its application. Not only is this an exciting opportunity for students, it opens doors for us as educators and researchers too. 

“We plan to increase the number of dual degree programmes in the future, as well as introducing dual masters and PhD degrees, and we are very much looking forward to working with our talented colleagues in SWJTU to undertake world-class collaborative research.”

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