Tsinghua University, famed as the "cradle of engineers," is often dubbed "Chinese MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)" on the Chinese mainland.
The recent visit of Dr Susan Hockfield, president of MIT, to Tsinghua University brought the relationship between the two universities even closer.
"Universities must foster many new kinds of collaboration," Hockfield said in her speech at Tsinghua. "We must work across the borders between universities and industry, between academic disciplines, between institutions, and between nations."
Tsinghua-MIT Beijing Urban Design Joint Studio has been one of the cooperative programs between Tsinghua and MIT.
The idea was mooted in 1979 and turned into reality six years later when the first joint studio opened in Beijing. The joint studio has been held every two years, ever since.
In each studio, directed by two to three professors from both universities, some 20 MIT graduates together with some 10 Tsinghua counterparts do field study, urban design and joint review in selected places in Beijing for a month.
Such joint research has covered places such as Shichahai, Zhongguancun, Wudaokou and Dewai Street. All of them are known for their distinctive features. For instance, Shichahai area is known for clusters of traditional siheyuan courtyards and hutong alleys, while Zhongguancun is the centre for high-tech and IT industry.
Tsinghua and MIT will hold the 10th joint studio between June and July. And an exhibition of the research fruits yielded by participating students will be held.
Over the years, Tsinghua and MIT have started other collaborative programs.
In 1996, the School of Economics and Management of Tsinghua began a partnership with the MIT Sloan School of Management, developing programs to prepare China's management for business in the global arena.
Since then, more than 40 faculty members have visited MIT Sloan for at least half a year for teaching and research experience. The joint International Master's in Business Administration (IMBA) have attracted applicants not only from China, but also from other countries. In fact, 26 per cent of the students in the program are international students.
In the same cooperative spirit, the Tsinghua China Finance Research Centre was founded in July 2002. Since then, more than 200 students have received training through various seminars at the centre.
"Universities will need to learn from each other and to draw on best practices in education and research wherever they originate," Hockfield said.
She is the first university president to be given an honorary doctorate by Tsinghua University in its 95-year history.
Founded in 1911, Tsinghua was originally set up as a preparatory school for students who would be sent by the government to study advanced science and technology in universities in the US. Later, it was changed into a national-funded university and continues to draw on the good educational experience of American universities, especially MIT.
(China Daily February 18, 2006)