Dec 09 2014 Posted: 09:29 GMT

Agreement with Tsinghua University builds on long-standing tradition of educational and research exchange, and highlights alumni connections

NUI Galway will sign an agreement on Tuesday, 9 December, with Tsinghua University in China to collaborate on both education and research activities. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding will be witnessed by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, and President of China, Xi Jinping, in The Great Hall of the People immediately prior to the State Banquet to mark the visit.

Both national Presidents have links to the universities as President Higgins is an alumnus of NUI Galway, while President Xi graduated from Tsinghua University.

Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, and Ms Chen Xu, Chairperson of Tsinghua University Council, will sign the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of their respective universities at 9am GMT (5pm Beijing time) on Tuesday.

The agreement will feature: joint research in the fields of mutual interest to both universities; exchange of faculty members and researchers; exchange of students; joint organisation of seminars and academic meetings; exchange of materials in education; and research, publications and academic information.

Science and engineering research and teaching is a particular strength for both universities. For the academic year 2015/16, a plan for undergraduate engineering student exchange and increased post-graduate mobility has been agreed.

The agreement follows on from existing close ties between the universities. In research, a significant three-year EU project on cancer biomarkers led by NUI Galway, with Tsinghua University as a partner, has just come to completion. Also in research, 27 Tsinghua graduates have come to NUI Galway to pursue postgraduate degrees over the last two decades. In addition, several senior academic positions at Tsinghua University are held by NUI Galway graduates, and Tsinghua University alumni teach at NUI Galway.

NUI Galway’s President Browne, has supervised many Tsinghua University graduates who have come to NUI Galway as PhD and masters students in the area of industrial engineering. Commenting on the agreement he said: “This is a historic agreement, which builds on a long tradition of educational exchange between NUI Galway and Tsinghua University, particularly in the area of Engineering. With this signing we look forward to deepening our collaboration, resulting in great student mobility between the two universities at under-graduate and post-graduate levels, as well as building new partnerships on a range of research fronts. It is especially fitting that this agreement is signed in the presence of the national Presidents, both of whom are alumni of the respective universities.”

The signing will take place during the State Visit of President Michael D. Higgins to China. This is the first State Visit since 2003.  Accompanying the President on this three city visit to Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, will be the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, T.D. and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, T.D. The visit will aim to deepen the political, cultural, business, scientific and educational relationships between the two countries. The President will be accompanied by Sabina Higgins.

Dr Jim Browne is travelling as part of the delegation on the State Visit, following the invitation from Enterprise Ireland to the International Office of the Irish universities. He will also be accompanied by colleague, Professor Brian Hughes, Dean of International Affairs.

NUI Galway has a very strong Alumni Group in Beijing, made up of alumni and member of the Irish expat community.

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