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Yale Seeks Greater Role in China's Education

Yale, one of the world's most prestigious universities based in the United States, stepped up cooperation with China's educational institutions Monday, opening a biomedical research institute with the elite Fudan University in Shanghai.

Richard Levin, president of Yale, said the university's 17 faculties and colleges had established cooperative links with 45 colleges, universities or research institutes in 16 cities, with jointly-sponsored research fields ranging from Shanghai's stock market to the history of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the last dynasty of imperial China.

Levin said well-established student exchanges had become a cornerstone of Sino-US relations.

Yale and Fudan were negotiating cooperation programs in sectors like public health, law and management, said Levin.

"The three hundred Chinese students currently in residence play a great role in Yale," Levin said.

Yale was proud of being the alma mater of Yung Wing, the first Chinese student sent to the United States to receive a college education in Yale in 1854.

But Chinese students presently contributed far more to Yale than their forerunners. "We believe that every Yale student gains from the presence of Chinese students," Levin said.

Chinese students accounted for 17 percent of the total foreign students at Yale, and in the United States one in ten foreign students was Chinese.

Levin said Chinese students mainly played a cultural exchange role in the early days and their presence helped US people know more about China. Chinese students now, however, were a major force in academic research.

Many historic figures of late 19th century and early 20th century China had been educated at Yale, including Zhan Tianyou, the father of China's railways and one of the nation's first Yale graduates, who was appointed the government's chief railway engineer on his return.

The numbers of Chinese students in the United States had risen each year since China loosened restrictions on studying abroad in the 1980s and 1990s, and Yale and other leading US universities had been the first choices of Chinese students.

But Yale did not feel satisfied to be a purely training organization for Chinese students and sought institutional cooperation, and the Fudan-Yale Biomedical Research Center is the latest in such efforts.

On the other hand, Yale students had come to China too. Seven American graduate students had received postgraduate programs in Fudan. Levin said more Yale students come to China for their own benefit, and the benefit of the people of Yale and even the United States as a whole to know Chinese society and culture.

Levin said China had the world's greatest potential to build first-class universities because of its long history of stressing and investing in education. He suggested Chinese universities and colleges invest more in research and expand exchanges with educational institutions around the world.

(Xinhua News Agency November 12, 2003)

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