| Lyna Mohamad in Ningxia, China |
ON OUR visit to Ningxia University as delegates of the ASEAN media representatives, we were warmly welcomed by the university’s senior officials led by its Vice President Xie Ying Zhong.
Xie Ying Zhong in his welcoming remarks expressed delight in having us choose the university as our first stop in our visit programme to Ningxia Hui Autonomous region, and he hoped the university will leave a good impression on us.
Before we were welcomed by him and the senior officials, we were taken for a quick tour of the university’s premises to gain a better understanding of the university, especially on its history and progress to date, along with its initiatives in encouraging entrepreneurship innovation among students.
The vice president said, “Over the past six decades we have carried forward a fine tradition of what we call is the spirit of the Delta tree. This is a kind of tree grown on the deserts of the Chinese delta which represents the spirit of perseverance, spirit of enraging efforts for self-improvement and strength, and the spirit of unselfishness and sacrifice.”
Ningxia University grows together with the autonomous region with a lot of progress made in different aspects; in recent years, many new projects have been launched to improve the education quality in China, and the university is trying hard to seize the opportunities to participate in different programmes.
One example of a programme that is of its interests is to improve the comprehensive trends of institutions of higher learning in the central western part of China. In the programme of building first standard university through this opportunity, Ningxia University has managed to improve its education quality.
Xie Ying Zhong said, “The number of our staff is around 25,000. Now we have 11 discipline fields including philosophy, economy, law, education, history, science, engineering, agriculture, management and arts. We have 78 other graduate programmes. Currently (in Ningxia University) we have around 4,000 graduate students, which is 66 per cent of the total Ningxia Hui Autonomous region. The number of PhD students, meanwhile, accounts for around 75 per cent of the total in the region.”
Ningxia University has gained listings and awards in recent years dating from 2004 to 2018, among all as one of the 211 projects of key universities that is to build the top 100 key universities for the 21st Century, the university in the programme of improving the comprehensive trends of universities in central and western parts of China and several more significant achievements.
Last year, Ningxia University became a university jointly managed by the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China.
“In recent years we are trying to explore education model that integrates entrepreneurial innovation in cultivation system,” said Xie Ying Zhong.
“We have been awarded the top 15 model universities for innovation in entrepreneurship education and top 100 models of universities for Deepening Reform Innovation in entrepreneurship education, and Top 50 University Best for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.”
He added that Ningxia University is the only university to win these three awards among institutions of higher learning in the north western part of China.
He said the university currently has one national level key discipline and one national level preparatory discipline, 18 provincial level key disciplines, six PhD programmes of primary disciplines, 36 PhD programmes of sub-subordinate disciplines, 31 Masters programmes of primary disciplines, 175 Master’s programme of subordinate disciplines and 15 professional Master’s programme.
“And we have distinct advantages in the study of water conservancy and irrigation in arid regions, grassland ecology, and protection of fire resources,” he added.
As for science and technology innovation, Ningxia University has built an innovation platform at the state, provincial and university levels. It has built 32 technological innovation platforms above the provincial level, and in 2017 the university gained respect for their findings on the efficient use of coal breakthrough.
Like any other universities, Ningxia University has formed many partnerships with many renowned universities in China including Shanghai, partnerships with 22 foreign universities including Malaysia’s Pahang University and the joint building of the Confucius Institute with Dubai University of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Ningxia University is also among the first group of Chinese universities to receive international students and also the first group of universities to offer Chinese government scholarships to them.
In January 2018, Ningxia University formulated the implementation on jointly promoting education with countries of the Belt and Road initiatives.
Xie Ying Zhong said, “We hope to further promote people-to-people exchanges, talent training, cooperation in science, research and think tank with countries of the Belt and Road initiatives.
“In terms of people-to-people exchanges, our key project is the Confucius Institute jointly established with Dubai University. In March this year, our university co-organised the first Arabic country Confucius Institute Joint Session.”
The university also has other international cooperation programmes to promote exchanges with foreign universities, and is also making full use of the Ningxia University Scholarship for international students to increase the number of students they recruit from countries of the Belt and Road initiatives.
“We are also exploring the model of mutual recognition of credits and conferment of degrees with universities in many countries in Europe and also with universities in Russia, Malaysia, Egypt and Thailand,” said Xie Ying Zhong.
“We have also established a centre for transfer of technology in the Middle East. We also have this kind of partnership programme with universities in Morocco last year. We launched the programme as part of our efforts to promote exchanges with countries of the Belt and Road initiatives.”
Touching on our visit to the university, the vice president hoped that through this opportunity we will be able to gain and exchange ideas with the ASEAN delegations and explore ways to build a platform for cooperation between students in our countries, especially in terms of exchange of students, joint cultivation of talents and cooperation in scientific research.
He said, “In this way, we hope we can cultivate more talents with countries of the Belt and Road initiatives. We also want to further promote dialogues between different countries so that we can all contribute towards building the community of shared future of mankind.”
President of the Confederation of ASEAN Journalists Thepchai Yong, who led the ASEAN delegates, in the responding remarks noted that having seen the innovations by the students there, the more we read about the history of Ningxia University, the more we are impressed, especially within the contents of cooperation between China and ASEAN.
This is due to the university’s standing as a pioneer in international relations and being among the first universities and colleges in China to have established contacts and agreements with foreign education institutions for cooperation in various fields.
“What is even more important is that you are among the first university in China to accept foreign exchange students,” said Thepchai Yong.
“So within the context of cooperation between China and the rest of the world, I think this is very important, and this is something that I hope that we can discuss further on, so that we can find out ways for media in ASEAN and China to work together to further enhance knowledge and understanding of this very important issue.
“In dedication of ASEAN journalists in visiting China and especially to Ningxia today are journalists from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam as well as dancers from Asian countries participating in the Asian Cultural Carnival, which was spectacular.
“It was a very concrete form of how diversity can be promoted among countries of different historical and cultural backgrounds.”
The exchanges of speeches followed with us being ushered into the various departments and sections of the university with a focus more on its entrepreneurial and scientific/engineering development areas.
Currently holding the concept of scientific development and carrying out important thoughts of the “Three Represents”, Ningxia University emphasises its educational philosophy of “cultivating talents in combination with the spirit of humanities and science”, and placing the individual as its highest priority.
During the tour, we were made to understand that the university comprehensively focusses on quality education with unique characteristics and educational style so as to continuously improve teaching quality and strengthen scientific technology innovation and achievements.
At the same time, the university also carries out the strategy of open development and strengthening the cooperation and exchanges with domestic and foreign universities and colleges, raising its impact both at home and abroad.
Following the motto of “Truth and Innovation through Virtuous and Diligent Study”, and emphasising the spirit of “Devotion and Development”, management are making Ningxia University a comprehensive university with the highest academic prestige in Western China.
There, science and engineering is a general term for disciplines including natural science, applied science and mathematical logic, as well as the research and process disciplines in computer, information, communications, machinery and other research applications. Beneath these are the main secondary disciplines of software engineering, communications engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science and technology, architecture, civil engineering, aerospace, oil and gas engineering, and so forth.
China as a whole has made remarkable achievements in the science and technology field with its rapid development of science and technology, including at Ningxia University which provides international students with abundant and valuable knowledge as well as practice opportunities during their study abroad in China.
Alongside the development of China’s science and technology economic levels, multi-national businesses are also developing rapidly in the country, and international students with their own cultural backgrounds will stand relatively competitive among the multi-nationals.
Having experienced almost half a century’s of development since its establishment in 1958, Ningxia University has now become the key provincial comprehensive university run by both the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region after two mergers since 1997.
Located in the Xixia District of Yinchuan City, it was a significant view as we drove in to the campus earlier, the university surrounded by lush lawns and wide lakes, with the magnificent buildings and comprehensive facilities providing a beautiful backdrop for students.
The vitality of the university is shown through the devoted faculty members and energetic students, multi-purpose centres, a modern library with rich collections, advanced laboratories, regulation sports ground and stadium, wide-spread information networks and fully equipped students’ dorms. The list goes on.