Innovationis widely acknowledged as the key to world development and human well being. Since universities attract the most innovative talents, produce outcomes with most innovative value and cultivate most innovative culture, the whole world is expecting universities to become more innovative. On April 7th, 2016 World's First-class University Presidents' Forum was held in Shanghai, which was undertaken by SJTU. Presidents and vice-chancellors of world's most famous universities gathered together, talking about the universities' missions and responsibilities in the era of innovation-driven development. Du Zhanyuan, the Vice Minister of Education, Weng Tiehui, the Vice Mayer of Shanghai, and Jiang Sixian, the Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of Shanghai Municipal People's Congress and Party Secretary of SJTU attended the forum and delivered speeches. Zhang Jie, President of SJTU made a keynote report. There presentatives from Chinese first 9 universities of "985 Project"(C9), The Russell Group, League of European Research Universities (LERU) and Australian Group of Eight (Go8) and the presidents of over 30 first-classuniversities at home and abroad attended the meeting, discussing about "the construction of universities' innovation capacity and the strategy of innovation-driven development"
On behalf of SJTU, Vice Minister of Education Jiang Sixian made a welcome speech. In the speech, he said that this year marks the 120 anniversary of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and holding this forum is a great opportunity for SJTU to exchange ideas and reach consensus on how to run great educational institutions with the top universities in the world. He noted that against the back drop that the whole world has entered the era of innovation-driven development, working alone can not provide us with great innovations. Colleges and universities should not only get out of the ivory tower and into the synergy creation of production,learning and research, but also vigorously carry out all-round international cooperation.
He also pointed out that, building “a community with common destiny” is the shared mission of this age for all the elite universities in the world. In today’s world, countries are becoming unprecedentedly intertwined and interdependent, and it is especially so for universities. As a special form of symbiotic community, the top universities are responsible for cultivating a generation of youth with international horizon,cross-cultural understanding that love peace and to share and create win-win outcomes.Although the top universities are diversified in their features and pursuits,they should shoulder the responsibility of building a more cohesive human community. Shanghai Jiao Tong University is willing to go ahead hand in hand with its brother universities in the world for a better future in both higher education and human society.
Weng Tiehui, the Vice Mayer of Shanghai said in her speech that the first-classuniversities shouldered the sacred missions of promoting the progress of humanbeings, the prosperity of the country and the happiness of the people; and top discipline was the core of the world-class university. Currently, Shanghai is buildinga scientific and technological innovation center, in which top universities play a key role. Shanghai will take advantage of being the pilot zone for comprehensive education reform to relocate resources, making fair evaluations tandards to building first-class universities and cultivate top talents.
She said that the development of universities should be focused on subjects' constructions, trying to form the peak of subjects' highland. Shanghai should have good top level design for the planning for Shanghai’s higher education. It should select a series of cutting-edge disciplines as focus to invest and make up for the weak ones. Shanghai should customize the invest and resource allocation according the real needs of each discipline to draw and cultivate talents. At the same time, Shanghai should invest more and set up higher standards on the cultivation of professional degrees.
Du Zhanyuan, the Vice Minister of Education said in his speech that China was a big country of higher education but not a power of higher education and had acertain gap with world's higher education powers in terms of education and teaching philosophy, talents training model, resource allocation and structural layout and so on. Since 1995, Chinese government has implemented the “211”, “985”projects, and after 20 years of efforts, the higher education of China has won a good reputation in the world, which significantly strengthened the comprehensive power and competitiveness of China in the international arena.
On October,2015, the Chinese government printed and distributed "The overall plan of coordinated promotion on the construction of world-class universities and top disciplines". At present, the development of Chinese higher education'sreform, especially the construction of the first-class universities and the first-class subjects, is in an important period of strategic opportunities when great accomplishments can be made.
Zhang Jiemade a keynote speech “Challenge and Change—The Responsibility of Innovative Universities”. In the speech, he pointed that since early nineteenth century, there has been a stronger link between progress in human society and that in higher education.The rapid development of science and technology raised the productivity of theh uman society in such a great level that there have been sea changes in people’sway of life. In this process, a great number of research universities played akey role and became the guiding star of innovation. Into the 21stcentury, innovation in knowledge and technology is emerging in an endless stream, and the pace of social development is far beyond expectation. However,the over exploitation and inefficient use of natural resources, the conflictand estrangement of different cultures have become two challenges facing the sustainable development of the human society. The research universities should take the responsibility of tackling these challenges.
He pointed out that the research universities should work together with all the innovative players in the world to build a global network that shares all sorts of innovative resources. The role of research universities in this network is in the forminga nd performing of this network, which can not be played by other institutions.The innovative universities have the capacity to link and coordinate with different stakeholders, to realize win-win situation and making huge, sustainable, positiveand irreplaceable impact to the society and innovate for the higher good of thehuman society. This is the responsibility and duty of innovative universities.
The parallel forum focused on topics such as “Universities’ Role and Position in National Innovation Strategy”, “The Impact of Globalization on Innovative Capacity-Building” and “Effective Measures of Cultivating Innovative Talents”. Presidents and representatives from world-class universities discussed the social responsibilities and historical missions of innovative universities in a time of great socialchanges, as well as how to led future technological advances and human society development by high level academic study and cultivating top talents.
During the forum, China 9 League and 3 universities in Hongkong (H3) signed the letter of intent of "the Shanghai Declaration" with Australian Group of Eight,League of European Research Universities and English Russell Group, motivating international innovative universities to build closer and more practical cooperative relationship with more open attitude and starting a new page of the construction of the first-class innovative universities and the development of human society.
In the Minhang Campus of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the presidents of more than 30top universities, together with their foreign students studying in SJTU,planted trees from their countries on a world map formed by plants. And eventually, these trees, just like the seeds of friendship and common missionin this forum, will flourish into a great canopy.