Prof Sir Steve Smith, Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter, was invited to deliver opening remarks at the prestigious event.

Prof Sir Steve Smith Speaks at Launch of China-UK Higher Education Young Talent Alliance

On the 18th April, the inaugural China-UK Higher Education Young Talent Alliance (HEYTA) was launched at Tsinghua University in Beijing, with a number of Exeter staff and students in attendance. 

HEYTA is a new event delivered through the China-UK Humanities Alliance, a select group of elite universities from the UK and China focused on enhancing communication and collaboration in the Humanities. Prof Sir Steve Smith, Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter, was invited to deliver opening remarks at the prestigious event alongside Prof Chen Xu, Chancellor of Tsinghua University, and Danny Whitehead, the British Council’s Deputy Director for China.

The China-UK Humanities Alliance was proposed and established by Tsinghua University in 2016, with the support of the People’s Republic of China Ministry of Education. The Alliance initially brought together 12 of the very best universities from China and the UK, all of whom were world-leading institutions in the Arts and Humanities. Exeter is an active member of the Alliance, with several colleagues from our College of Humanities having received funding grants to carry out exciting research projects with their Chinese counterparts. These range from addressing issues of cultural exchange between China and the Global South, to looking at the increased reach and impact of Chinese film.

The Higher Education Young Talent Alliance represents an important new development of the Alliance’s work, as it focuses on bringing together students from member universities to discuss how the humanities can inform our thinking about some major global challenges facing the world. It is the first undergraduate focused event that has been run by the Alliance, and the organisers hope it will become a regular event that will play a vital role in the exchange of ideas between China and the UK.

The Youth Summit brought together a total of 34 students from China and the UK, including three from the College of Humanities at Exeter - all 1st and 2nd year Modern Language students studying Chinese.  The theme of the first HEYTA conference was Exploring Beauty in Humanities and Innovation, Bridging the Communication between China and the UK. Student participants explored a range of issues allowing them to better understand the cultural and creative industries, digital humanities, and how to improve education around the arts. In addition to attending workshops and seminars on these topics, the students also had the opportunity to visit culturally significant sites in Beijing including the Forbidden City and the 798 Art District.

During his opening speech, Prof Sir Steve Smith said: ‘I firmly believe that fostering cross-cultural exchange between nations and their students has never been more important than it is today. That is why events such as the China-UK Higher Education Young Talent Alliance, which brings together some of the best students from UK and Chinese universities, are so important. Today’s students from China and the UK will play a key role in developing understanding between our countries, and will doubtless lead the way in future collaborations and partnerships between East and West. The students selected to attend the Beijing Summit have been offered an exceptional opportunity to learn from each other’s cultures and explore the important role that Arts and Humanities might play in developing new initiatives between our nations.’

Date: 24 April 2019

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