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World University Leaders Discuss Innovation in Shanghai
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This summer in Shanghai is likely to be intellectually stimulating for 143 university presidents from around the world -- 123 from the Chinese mainland, six from Hong Kong and 14 from another 11 countries.

The presidents of almost all China's top-ranking universities and presidents of renowned foreign institutes of learning -- including Britain's Cambridge University, Japan's Keio University and the US universities of Stanford and Yale -- attended the opening ceremony of the 3rd Chinese-Foreign University Presidents Forum Wednesday night at the China Executive Leadership Academy in Shanghai's Pudong New Area.

Minister of Education Zhou Ji presided at the opening ceremony and said that he was delighted to welcome the forum to Shanghai -- China's most dynamic city. The previous two forums were both convened in Beijing in 2002 and 2004.

The theme of the forum this year was "Innovation and the Service of Universities".

During the seminars, 14 foreign university presidents will deliver speeches explaining their experiences and understanding of how these learning establishments can assist in society and overall community economic development.

Minister of Education Zhou Ji

The forum signifies China's determination to push ahead with its plans for building up the nation's capacity for innovation and to further improve the quality of universities after years of rapid expansion in enrollment. In 2003 the number of students studying at colleges and universities was 19 million. In 2004 alone 4 million students were enrolled by colleges and universities.

As further education has become more accessible to a vast number of students, Chinese universities are playing a significant role in accelerating the country's development and are expected to do more. Over the years Shanghai has produced an effective mechanism to combine university education and research with the building of economic development zones.

The universities of Tongji, Shanghai Jiaotong, Shanghai Maritime and Shanghai Fisheries all participated in the planning and construction of the Yangshan Port which is a deep-water facility around the Yangshan isles to the east of Hangzhou Bay. This is expected to help Shanghai become an international shipping center.

As millions of Chinese students across the country who've just passed the national entrance exam in June are now waiting to start their university education in September, the heads of their universities are busily engaged in intensive educational debates in Shanghai with colleagues from home and abroad. There's little doubt that the 3rd Chinese-Foreign University Presidents Forum will help shape the university life of theses students and perhaps the future of China's higher education.

The biennial event was initiated by State Councilor Chen Zhili when she served as minister of education from 1998-2003.

( by staff reporter Wind Gu, July 13, 2006)

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