Forum group 920
University of Birmingham and Nankai University experts meet in China at the first Forum.

The University of Birmingham and Nankai University held their first international academic forum, as their new Joint Research Institute begins tackling a range of environmental and social challenges.

British and Chinese researchers met in Tianjin to begin discussions on a range of potential shared scientific research areas including air pollution and the green credentials of China's thermal power industry.

They also examined social and economic challenges linked to China’s two-child family policy, ‘green’ finance and investment, foreign nationals establishing businesses in China, the impact of China’s environmental regulation policy on business, and the potential use of UN Sustainable Development Goals for evaluating China’s eco-performance.

Research experts from every College within the University of Birmingham travelled to the Chinese university to meet their counterparts and define the next steps for the Institute in addressing issues across the green economy and sustainable development.

Led by Professor Jon Frampton, Director of the University’s China Institute, the Birmingham delegation was welcomed by President Cao Xuntao, President at Nankai University.

Professor Frampton said: “Our two universities have established a global research institute, which we believe will produce high-profile work that will improve the environment and the health of millions of people in China and around the world.

“Experts from the University of Birmingham have travelled to Nankai University to begin our shared research journey into a range of environmental and social challenges, which we hope will help China’s policy-makers respond efficiently to the challenges we face.

“The Joint Research Institute deepens our already strong partnership with Nankai University and our meeting in Tianjin represents another exciting opportunity for our researchers to foster strong partnerships.”

Professor Wu Zhicheng, Director of the office for International Academic Exchanges of Nankai University said: “Academic co-operation between the University of Birmingham and Nankai University dates back a decade. Over 200 students from Nankai University have gone to pursue a master degree at Birmingham through a dual degree programme established between the two institutions.

“We are delighted to see an active student exchange programme has turned out to a more closely linked research-oriented co-operation mechanism that allows professors from both institutions share their common research interest on some very critical issues of our time. We look forward to the Joint Institute of Green Economy and Sustainable Development becoming a model that other bilateral academic co-operation will look up to and more international joint research achievements can be attained through the hard work of our professors on this newly-established platform.”

The Institute will see researchers from Nankai and Birmingham Universities evaluate the impact of China’s green policies, as well as how policies can be improved and examining links between inequality and environmental challenges.
And the partnership covers research in environmental policy and economics, environment and public health, mathematics and data analysis. It also draws on Birmingham’s expertise in data science – allowing experts to look at environmental sustainability and analyse how people and nature can better co-exist.

The Institute brings 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.

The Institute’s formal launch in March followed exchange visits and discussions between the two universities over the last two years.

  • 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 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • The delegation from the University of Birmingham comprised of:

Prof. Jon Frampton, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor, Director of China Institute, and Professor of Stem Cell Biology
Prof. Robert Lee, Head of Law School
Prof. David Dickinson, Business School
Prof. James Bentley Brown, Chair of Environmental BioinformaticsProf. Francis Pope, Professor of Atmospheric Science
Prof. Ian Thompson, Professor of Accounting and Sustainability
Prof. Barbara Fawcett, Professor of Social Work
Dr Hui Li, Senior Lecturer in Statistics and Econometrics
Dr Sami Ullah, Senior Lecturer in Biogeochemistry and Physical Geography
Dr Birman Chakraborty, Lecturer

  • The University of Birmingham 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.