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Better education, better life

I am delighted to congratulate Shanghai on hosting what I am sure will be the biggest and most impressive World Expo ever held.

My congratulations, too, on choosing for the Expo the excellent theme of "Better City, Better Life." This choice of theme is further evidence of China's continuing commitment to sustainable development.

You will not be surprised that as vice chancellor of the University of Cambridge, I see education as one of the key ways of delivering this aspiration, education in the broadest possible sense: public education at school level, continuing professional development, outreach and international cooperation, as well as university teaching.

China's recent progress in developing education has been truly phenomenal, with undergraduate enrollments growing an amazing six-fold since 1998.

At the same time there is a growing recognition in China of the importance of providing quality in education: teaching students how to think critically and creatively, as opposed to simply passing examinations.

International cooperation and exchange in education are rightly seen as central to China's ambition to develop a truly world-class education system. This is a crucial element of the recent educational reforms and will play a key role in enabling China to achieve its goal of becoming an innovation-led economy by 2020.

Education will, of course, be a key theme for the UK's Expo Program.

The UK Pavilion, which I am delighted to hear is one of the most eagerly awaited in the upcoming Expo, will be used as a venue for both education events and for receptions for the alumni who have studied in Cambridge and other British universities.

From a figure of fewer than 3,000 Chinese studying at all levels in the UK in 1998, we currently estimate that there are now some 85,000 here, a number similar to those studying in the United States, despite the UK being very much smaller in geography and population.

I am particularly proud that 700 Chinese citizens have chosen and been selected to study at Cambridge.

Chinese students can study for UK qualifications in China too: Cambridge Assessment - a department of my university - provides 900,000 examinations in China each year, the great majority being English language examinations, including IELTS.

Furthermore, over 10,000 Chinese students are studying on Higher Education Programmes provided by British universities in China, many of them progressing to finish their studies in the UK.

I would like, through the UK's Expo Program, to see even more Chinese students benefiting from the broadening of perspective that a UK Higher Education experience can offer.

I am pleased to see that the UK will include events for individual institutions, an education fair and school links. The UK's Website ( will also provide valuable information about institutions, courses and qualifications in Britain.

This year the world will, through the Shanghai World Expo, witness the huge strides which Shanghai has made to improve the lives of its citizens, including through developing its education system.

My hope is that the existing excellent cooperation in the field of education, which is already evident in the links with the University of Cambridge and other British universities will, through the Expo, further develop in both quantity and quality in the coming years, contributing to a "Better Life" for citizens of both countries.


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