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Vice President Wang Lei, of Nankai University, and Professor Jon Frampton, of the University of Bimingham, sign the agreement to establish the Joint Research Institute on Green Economy and Sustainable Development

The University of Birmingham and Nankai University are establishing a Joint Research Institute that will see experts from the UK and China working together on global environmental challenges.

Researchers at the Institute will focus on the green economy and sustainable development. The venture will allow research activities in interdisciplinary areas, faculty exchange, and joint PhD education.

The Joint Research Institute on Green Economy and Sustainable Development brings together science and social science research - for example, setting the global policy agenda by combining understanding of how individuals and economy respond to environmental policy with scientific research identifying problems and how they might be solved.

Institute members will, initially, work on environmental policy and economics, environment and public health, mathematics and data analysis.

Vice President Wang Lei, of Nankai University, and Professor Jon Frampton, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor and Director of the China Institute, at the University of Birmingham, signed an agreement today in a special ceremony, in Nankai. With witness of President Cao Xuntao, President of Nankai.

Researchers from Nankai and Birmingham will focus on evaluating the impact of China’s green policies, as well as how policies can be improved and examining links between inequality and environmental challenges.

They will investigate a range the environmental health challenges, including air quality control; nanomaterials, microplastics and other emerging pollutants; and strategies for dealing with air, soil and water pollution.

The Institute will also draw on Birmingham’s expertise in data science – allowing experts to look at environmental sustainability and analyse how people and nature can better co-exist.

Professor Frampton commented: “We look forward to working with our colleagues at Nankai University in developing a global research institute, which focuses on the influence of policies that impact on the environment and the health of billions of people in China and around the world.

“Solving the problems of environmental degradation with science has created dramatic changes in how the global economy operates and countries interact. Through its multi-disciplinary and multi-country approach to the study of the effects of climate change and pollution, the Centre will identify the true cost of proposed solutions and help policy-makers respond efficiently.

“As a global ‘civic’ university in the 21st century, our responsibilities include contributing to enriching the life of both our home city and the wider world. This Joint Research Institute will deepen our already strong partnership with Nankai and represents another exciting opportunity for our researchers to foster strong partnerships across the globe.”

The Institute will bring together research excellence between the two universities to allow cross-disciplinary research in global challenge topics. It will also establish a hub of postgraduate education and research training, pursuing research funding opportunities in China and the UK and speeding up the development of new and sustainable industries in both countries.

President Cao Xuntao of Nankai University commented: “Nankai University is aiming to advance the ‘Double First-Class’ university project and we are hoping to learn from world-class universities in order to drive the momentum of internationalisation in our university. 

“The essence of this project is to strengthen international collaboration, especially exchange opportunities for students and faculty. Nankai University maintains an effective and cooperative relationship with world-class universities. Many of our students have been to the UK for academic study; from now on, we will provide full support and assistance for students willing to pursue academic achievements at prestigious oversea universities. 

“We are really looking forward to working closely with the University of Birmingham, and attach great importance to the Joint Research Institute on Green Economy and Sustainable Development. We regard it as a significant starting point for our co-operation and exchange and would accelerate implementation of potential projects as soon as possible. Some first-class disciplines at Nankai University enjoy high reputations and we are endeavouring to get a further understanding of the University of Birmingham with the hope of expanding our co-operation to wider areas.”

The agreement follows last summer’s visit to the University of Birmingham when Vice President Professor Jiadong TONG and senior academic colleagues explored future research partnerships, as well as student and staff exchange.

The Nankai delegation’s visit to the University followed exchange visits and discussions between the two universities over the last 18 months.

• The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries.
• It is ranked 7th in the UK for Graduate Employability (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2014/15) and was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment 2015/16 by The Times and Sunday Times.
• The history of collaboration between China and the University of Birmingham dates back almost to the foundation of the University in 1901. The University’s China Institute was created in 2012 to reflect Birmingham’s extensive academic activities its colleagues undertake in China.
• Nankai University was established in 1919, and is a China national 211 and 985 University. It ranks between 11-15 in China (NetBig). It is a comprehensive university, with 80 undergraduate disciplines, 231 Master’s programmes and 172 PhD programmes, in areas such as arts, social sciences, law, economics, medicine and engineering.