Three students from a top university in China have arrived to take part in a new exchange programme organised by a Cambridge student.

Pan Xiaohan, a Gates scholar, organised The Undergraduate Exchange Programme between Zhejiang University and the University of Cambridge to promote mutual understanding and potential cooperation between undergraduates in these two leading universities.

The university-wide programme was initiated in June 2008, but the first Chinese scholars arrived this month and will spend three months at the University. Xiaohan, who is President of Zhejiang University UK Alumni Association, contacted her former university, who have contributed around £800 per student, the International Office and Professor Chris Lowe, head of the Institute of Biotechnology where she is completing her PhD in chemical engineering and biotechnology.

The students, who arrived on 3rd February, are from Chu Kochen Honours College at Zhejiang University, one of the leading universities in China, and were selected based on their academic performance, research experiences and language skills. The College is for elite students at the University and they are selected on the basis of their scores in the national college entrance exam, which Chinese students sit at 19. Honorary college students have more freedom to select the modules they study than ordinary students.

Information engineering student Fang Ruogu, one of those taking part in the exchange, says: “Cambridge and Zhejiang University share the same leading roles in entrepreneurship allied with academic innovation, yet also demonstrate their excellence in different ways. While Cambridge provides abundant resources and freedom to future scholars and entrepreneurs, Zhejiang University stimulates excellent students selected from highly competitive environments to be future leaders with global vision and strong sense of social responsibility.”

Professor Chen Jin, Executive Dean of Chu Kochen Honours College, said: “This exchange programme is to train future scientists in biotechnology and other scientific areas for the upcoming science-based innovation society.”

In the first year, there will be no Cambridge students going to Zhejiang, but Xiaohan, who is at Downing College, plans to organise a return visit to China by Cambridge students next year.

They are also looking to widen the number of departments involved. Zhejiang University UK Alumni Association members are in talks with Institute of Manufacturing (IfM) and Engineering Design Centre (EDC) from Engineering Department to seek further cooperation opportunities for next year’s programme.

Xiaohan says that, if more Cambridge divisions and departments are willing to get involved, she would be more than happy to discuss further details.

Xiaohan said: “Zhejiang University was extolled by Joseph Needham as the ‘Cambridge of the East’ when he visited our campus during World War Two. My dream is to bridge these two ‘Cambridges’ and as such to further promote mutual understanding and potential cooperation between China and UK, especially amongst young people.”

From left to right in the photo are Pan Xiaohan, Fang Ruogu, Lu Qiaozhi and Zhang Junwei.

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