Kick-off meeting summary

Minutes of the kick-off meeting, 22 October 2012

EU-China Higher Education Research Center (ECHE) held its kick-off meeting in Brussels on 22 October 2012. 

Following the official launch of ECHE at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) earlier this summer, the kick-off meeting provided to the research members, associate researchers and members of ECHE’s Advisory Board the opportunity to exchange ideas about the future areas of work and prospects of collaboration under the newly established Research Center.

Representatives of several partner organisations, including the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA), Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe (UNICA), China Platform-Ghent University, and the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS)-University of Twente, took part actively in the event. Representatives of the Chinese Embassy in Belgium and the Mission of People’s Republic of China to the EU, as well as several high level European Commission officials also attended the kick-off meeting.

In his opening speech, Minister Counsellor Mr. Jianmin Li, Department of Education and Culture, Mission of the PRC to the EU, stressed the importance of the new initiative as China is aspiring to further promote academic mobility and collaboration with the EU. Mr. Vito Borrelli from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education and Culture and Mr. Jean-Claude Thivolle from the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation highlighted the fact that the launch of theECHE was a timely and useful type of action in light of the EU-China People-to-People dialogue and the upcoming Horizon 2020. Both of these frameworks promote the research and education cooperation between the EU and China on an equal footing and in the areas of common interest.

Prof. dr. Chang Zhu, Director of ECHE, appreciated the presence of all the participants and explained the mission and objectives of ECHE. She also invited the participants to present their China-related activities in higher education and to express ideas about possible areas of joint work. Dr. Bernd Waechter, ACA’s Director, referred to the regular monitoring of higher education developments in China, which is part of ACA’s famous newsletter. Ms. Kris Dejonckheere, UNICA Secretary-General, presented several initiatives of UNICA as well as the potentials for collaboration. Dr. Isabelle De Coen, Coordinator of China Platform-Ghent University, introduced their China initiatives and related projects. Dr. Egbert de Weert from CHEPS also gave a brief introduction of their research projects in the higher education area and China-related activities. Several other core research members and associated research members of ECHE were also present and briefly introduced their research related to European and Chinese higher education. The participants discussed a number of specific areas where they can join forces and prepare for concrete research projects.

All participants and a delegation from the Chinese Ministry of Education further exchanged views over the welcome drink and the lunch. The Dean of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Science, VUB, Prof. dr.Willem Elias, gave a warm welcome speech for the participants and congratulated the establishment of the ECHE Research Center. This event and other activities of ECHE have been greatly supported by the Education Section of the Chinese Embassy to Belgium. As a concluding remark, the Education Counsellor Mr. Luxin Wang wishes that the ECHE will play an important role in bridging the Chinese and Belgian universities in cultural, educational and research collaboration.