Pacts with China to boost cooperation and mobility

France and China have entered into 11 agreements to strengthen higher education and research partnerships as well as student mobility between the two countries, the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research has announced.

The agreements were signed during an official visit to China by French President François Hollande in April, on which he was accompanied by Higher Education and Research Minister Geneviève Fioraso.

The accords are in line with French policy concerning China, which aims to boost student and research mobility between the two countries and to increase scientific and academic partnerships by establishing a French higher education presence in China and developing common basic and technological research projects, according to a statement from the French higher education and research ministry.

China has 24 million students, 5% of them studying abroad, and the government aims to double the number by 2020.

More than 30,000 Chinese are studying in France, the second largest national student contingent there after Moroccans, while 8,000 French students are studying in China. The new partnerships aim to increase student mobility between the two countries to 80,000 and 10,000 respectively by 2020, said the French ministry.

China is France’s seventh biggest scientific partner and, said the statement, in addition to their collaboration in space projects for the past 15 years, there were six areas of mutual interest to the two countries’ research agenda “to meet new societal challenges and create sustainable value”.

These were sustainable development, green chemistry, biodiversity and water management, infectious diseases, digital technologies and smart towns.

The French and Chinese ministers signed two strategic agreements.

The first concerned educational and academic linguistic cooperation through setting up joint programmes to structure and increase postgraduate student mobility, and joint supervision of dissertations. Under the second, a joint working group on innovation will be established.

The nine other agreements to reinforce cooperation between higher education and research institutions concerned:
  • • Projects including installation of a campus of France’s Aix-Marseille University in Wuhan, following the introduction of other French institutions in China such as Centrale Pékin and Paris Tech Shanghai-Jiaotong, which was inaugurated by Hollande during his visit to Shanghai.
  • • Cooperation on student and teacher exchanges, creation of joint courses and collaborative research programmes involving the group of technology universities Sorbonne Universités, the French INSA group of applied science institutes, China’s Harbin Institute of Technology and the China Scholarship Council.
  • • Creation of an international geophysics laboratory involving France’s scientific research centre the CNRS, the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris and 16 other higher education institutions, and establishment of a human sciences laboratory.
  • • Renewal of a cooperation pact creating the Sino-French research centre specialising in life and genome sciences in the Ruijin hospital attached to the Shanghai Jiaotong University, involving the CNRS, the French medical research institute Inserm and the Pasteur Institute.