First students welcomed to joint engineering school in China

The first cohort of Chinese engineering students will soon begin studying at the University of Leeds and Southwest Jiaotong University Joint School, following a welcome ceremony taking place today.

The two leading institutions will provide four undergraduate degree programmes at the new Joint School, which is the University of Leeds’ first overseas school.

All courses will be taught in English at Southwest Jiaotong University’s campus in Chengdu. The new school has been approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

A video message from the University of Leeds’ Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands and Dean of Engineering Professor Peter Jimack will welcome the 200 students to the school.


Sir Alan Langlands said: “We are very proud to be initiating this joint school at a time when the world needs great engineers. We see real economic, social and cultural merit in establishing this relationship with our friends in Chengdu. 
“We are bound by a common bond: both universities have a strong sense of professionalism and integrity and are committed to high academic standards and ensuring a great student experience.”

The launch of the SWJTU-Leeds Joint School was announced in October last year, and was supported by the then UK Prime Minister David Cameron. 

He said in a letter to Xu Fei, President of SWJTU: “This partnership will cultivate global talent and build strong connections between the UK, China and other parts of the world, addressing future skills requirements and opening up new research opportunities.”

An opening ceremony is due to be held this afternoon, attended by senior Chinese and English Joint School staff including Leeds Dean, Dariusz Wanatowski and Dr Andrew Kemp, Programme Director for the Electronic and Electrical Engineering degree scheme.

The ceremony is to be hosted by Yan Qipeng, Vice Secretary of South West Jaiotong University, and among the Chinese delegation are Wang Shunhong, Secretary, Xu Fei, President, Yan Qipeng, Vice Secretary, Chen Zhijian, Vice Secretary and Feng Xiaoyun, Vice President of SWJTU.

During the ceremony, students will be presented with formal offer letters and give an oath stating their support for the university and commitment to its historical position and global vision.

Teaching for the four degree programmes will take place in China, but students will have the option of spending a year studying in Leeds as part of their course, or immediately following it.

Students in the school will earn dual degrees from both the University of Leeds and SWJTU making graduates exceptionally well prepared for engineering jobs across the world.

They will primarily follow the Leeds syllabus in the English language but also take additional SWJTU courses to earn the dual degree qualifications.

University of Leeds students based in the UK will also have the opportunity to attend the joint school in the coming years, and the universities plan to extend the partnership to include collaboration on postgraduate education and research. 

The degree schemes which will run at the University of Leeds-Southwest Jiaotong University Joint School are based on world leading research carried out by engineers in Leeds. The programmes are:

BSc Computer Science
BEng Civil Engineering with Transport
BEng Electronic and Electrical Engineering
BEng Mechanical Engineering

Teaching will be delivered by academics from the University of Leeds and from SWJTU as well as specially recruited Joint School experts.

The University of Leeds will oversee the delivery of the programme, which will be the same as that taught in the Faculty of Engineering in the UK, ensuring students benefit from an exceptional experience similar to that enjoyed by their contemporaries in Leeds.

Southwest Jiaotong University was founded in 1896 and is one of China’s oldest higher education institutions. Known as the cradle of China’s railway engineers and “the Cornell of the East”, it is the birthplace of China’s modern education in transportation, mining and metallurgy, and civil engineering.