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Chinese partnership to tackle environmental challenges

Centre news

A new partnership agreement has been signed with Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), aimed at strengthening future research collaborations with the University of Leeds.

A delegation from SJTU, which is a leading university in China, confirmed the agreement during a visit to Leeds. It will better align research ambitions to tackle global challenges in atmospheric change, water pollution, transport and sustainable development.

During the next 12 months, the two universities will work towards founding a joint institute for environmental research.

Leeds is already home to the highly-respected Priestley International Centre for Climate, led by Professor Piers Forster, and the relationship is likely to build on its existing work.

The visit to Leeds was led by Professor Zhongqin Lin, President of SJTU, who was joined by colleagues including Vice-President Professor Lifeng Xi and Deans from four schools.

University of Leeds Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands signs the agreement with SJTU president Professor Zhongqin Lin

They met Leeds’ Vice-Chancellor, Sir Alan Langlands, and also had a detailed discussion with Leeds’ Pro-Vice-Chancellor: International, Professor Hai-Sui Yu.

The visitors were shown the University’s extensive environmental research facilities by Professor Andy Dougill, Executive Dean for Environment.

During their tour, the Chinese delegation learnt about current research, including studies in relation to the impact of air quality on respiratory illnesses and in the built environment, and how traffic pollution can be reduced. They also learnt about investigations into how data can be used to improve human health.

As well as promoting joint research, the agreement also offers greater opportunities for student exchange visits between Master’s students and PhD researchers.

The visit – which included signing a new Memorandum of Understanding – was brokered by Leeds’ Pro-Vice-Chancellor: International, Professor Hai-Sui Yu.

Professor Yu with colleagues from Leeds and the Chinese delegation during their tour of the University

Professor Yu said: “We are an internationally-focused University and strengthening our relationship with Shanghai Jiao Tong University, one of the most significant institutions in China, is important for us.

“It also supports the Leeds City Region because of its cultural and industrial impact – through exchange trips for students and staff – and in terms of the quality and impact of our research.”

SJTU President Professor Lin also expressed his happiness with the signing: “Shanghai Jiao Tong University highly cherishes its partnership with Leeds and we are extremely pleased to be able to extend our collaboration to the field of environmental science, which is key to the world surrounding us. I believe our joint institute will make due contributions to finding solutions to the earth’s problems.”

During the visit, Sir Alan Langlands informed the delegation about the University’s recent successes in securing significant research funding to tackle global challenges including economic sustainability and improving weather forecasting in Africa.

The Chinese visit to Leeds follows a trip to Shanghai in November when negotiations for the agreement were opened as the universities reviewed their respective research and educational strengths.

Speaking to the Chinese visitors, Sir Alan said: “Last time we met, we agreed we had a strong relationship in the field of humanities research, now we have the opportunity to extend that into the sciences.”

He also explained how the university’s breadth and scale had proven beneficial in carrying out successful interdisciplinary research and explained how in the past year Leeds had secured multi-million pound grant funding from government, major charities, the private sector and the European Union.