“Impressive” university hailed as further investment promised.
The head of China’s principal organisation for international investment has described Birmingham City University as “beautiful and impressive” following his visit on Friday.
Fang Qiuchen, Chairman of the China International Contractors Associatio nwas shown, from the fifth floor balcony of the University’s £63 million Curzon building, the site where high speed trains will be arriving in to the Second City from 2026.
With 3,000 members, CHINCA is currently responsible for one in five infrastructure projects being undertaken across the globe. In 2014, the newly-signed contract value of China’s contracted projects abroad amounted to $191.8 billion, with a turnover of $142.4 billion, and covered 190 countries and regions around the world.
Fang Qiuchen said: “It is a pleasure and an honour to be here, and I am sure it won’t be the last time we visit. There are so many opportunities for investment in Birmingham and the wider region, and we have all been impressed by the Midlands’ ambitious infrastructure plans.
“Furthermore, partnerships with institutions such as Birmingham City University will enable us to understand local cultural and legal environments to ensure cooperation takes place going forward. As construction of high speed railway station progresses, it will be fantastic to see the area around the University develop into a modern place for the international community to gather – just like in the University’s classrooms today.”
Fang Qiuchen visited the University as part of a distinguished delegation led by Sun Tong, Director-General of the Department of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs. A senior official from China’s Ministry of Commerce, the Director-General was accompanied by more than forty other senior delegates from mainland China and Hong Kong.
Birmingham City University’s fast-developing campus offered the Director-General and his delegation the best possible view of the proposed High Speed Two (HS2) terminal, including the Grade I listed entrance building to the original Curzon Street railway station – the world’s oldest surviving piece of monumental railway architecture.
The visitors also heard presentations about the University by the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Julian Beer and the City of Birmingham’s economic growth was mapped out by James Betjemann, Regeneration Manager and Richard Woodland, Principal Capital Investment Officer, both from Birmingham City Council.
The visit forms part of a nationwide tour organised by the UK’s Department of International Trade and the delegates spent Friday exploring various enterprises found in the Midlands region and potential investment opportunities.
Dr Colin Clinton, Regional Manager, Department of International Trade Midlands Engine, said: “The UK Midlands offers some of the most innovative and exciting companies and universities in the country, and we are keen to encourage more investment into our projects across the region to drive this economic growth.”
The economic growth plan for the Midlands region – known as the Midlands Engine – is worth £222 billion each year to the UK economy and if the region matches the predicted growth rate for the UK over the next 15 years, it could create 300,000 jobs and boost the national economy by £34 billion.
Professor Julian Beer, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Birmingham City University, gave strong support to the Midlands Engine, highlighting his institution’s contribution to the regional economy. “Birmingham City University is supplying graduates to the region who contribute towards its economic growth, helping ensure that Birmingham as a city is constantly reinventing itself to secure a robust future. With the arrival of HS2, this is happening literally right in front of us, as the area around our City Centre Campus is set to emerge as an internationally-important focus of transport and education.
“We are proud of our close educational links with the People’s Republic of China. Thirty-one per cent of our international students are Chinese, enriching our campus communities here in the UK, and our partnership with Wuhan Textiles University saw the Birmingham Institute for Fashion and Creative Arts open in China last year.”
Located in Hubei’s capital city, the Birmingham Institute for Fashion and Creative is the first non-profit Chinese-foreign cooperatively run educational institution in the province offering undergraduate programmes. It welcomed 280 students in its first intake and represents Birmingham City University’s most significant engagement with China to date.
Birmingham City University has over 5,000 Chinese alumni and recent graduates now occupy senior positions in a wide range of organisations including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Jaguar Land Rover, Kimberly-Clark Professional, Lenovo, Michael Kors and Shanghai Disney Resort.