University strengthens bond with China

Birmingham’s educational links with China continue to grow with new launch.

The Vice-Governor of China’s Hubei province was joined by the Consul General of the UK in Wuhan to officially launch Birmingham City University’s first overseas transnational educational institute earlier this week.

Located in Hubei’s capital city, Birmingham Institute of Fashion and Creative Art is the first non-profit, Chinese-foreign co-operatively run educational institution in the province to offer undergraduate programmes.

A partnership between Birmingham City University and Wuhan Textile University, the Institute currently offers three undergraduate programmes: BA (Hons) Visual Communication, BA (Hons) Landscape Architecture and BSc (Hons) Digital Media Technology.

At the opening ceremony, Vice-Governor Guo Shenglian and Consul General Nick Whittingham were given a guided tour of the Institute’s state-of-the-art facilities – including the latest 3D design and media production equipment – contained in a completely refurbished 10,000m² building on the Nanhu Campus at Wuhan Textile University.

The two dignitaries were joined by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Carl Rice, alongside academics and senior staff from both institutions, including Professor Cliff Allan, Vice Chancellor, Birmingham City University and President Wei Yiliang of Wuhan Textile University. Guests at the launch enjoyed a selection of performances by students from Wuhan Textile University. The visitors from the UK were earlier welcomed to Wuhan by Guo Shenglian at the Hubei Government’s headquarters.

Birmingham City University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cliff Allan, said: “In a country where creative arts has grown more than 60 times in the last ten years, Birmingham Institute of Fashion and Creative Art will equip the next generation of creative people with the necessary skills and acumen they need to thrive – and who will go on to make a significant impact in Hubei province, across China and around the world.

“As well as gaining an internationally-recognised degree that ranks alongside the very best in the world, our students will benefit from a unique alliance of two universities already renowned for excellence and innovation in the creative arts.”

Birmingham City University is one of just 63 universities in the world to be given the green light by the Chinese Government to set up a jointly run higher education institute in China.

President Wei Yiliang, Wuhan Textile University, said: “The aim of Birmingham Institute of Fashion and Creative Art is to cultivate creative talents with innovative thinking and a global vision.

“I envisage that BIFCA will distinguish itself both nationally and globally with its uniqueness and its characteristics, under the joint efforts of both Wuhan Textile University and Birmingham City University. More importantly, it also contributes to the promotion of talents and cultural exchange between China and the UK.”

Also present at the launch were the first intake of 280 students, who all secured a place at the Institute through the Chinese Gaokao system with an average score of 570.

Senior staff members from both universities met with the new students after the ceremony, as did the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, who taught them some words from his city’s dialect during an English tutorial. Knowing a bit of ‘Brummie’ might come in handy as students at BIFCA also have the option of spending half of their studies in the UK at Birmingham City University’s brand new City Centre Campus. It is Birmingham City University’s intention to make other subjects available to students in Wuhan, as well as to increase the range of its collaborations in China.

Nick Whittingham, Consul General, British Consulate-General Wuhan, said: “The opening of the Birmingham Institute of Fashion and Creative Art at Wuhan Textile University is an exciting development that will strengthen education and creative links between the UK and Wuhan.

“Birmingham and Wuhan are both world-leading centres for education. They are both cities with a strong creative heritage. By bringing these strengths together I am confident there will be excellent outcomes. This tie-up reflects the growing links between the UK and Wuhan since the British Consulate-General opened last year. These links have grown in a wide range of areas including business, governmental, education and cultural.”

Birmingham City University has over 5,000 Chinese alumni with many holding prominent positions in the creative arts, including Fei Liu, who was a previous winner of Harper’s Bazaar China Designer of the Year award.