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Chinese internet giant meets Nottingham Nobel Prize-winner

Chris Rudd and Mrs Li Xiaowan signing the MOU (3)A University of Nottingham Nobel Prize-winner has met with representatives from the world’s largest Chinese-language search engine and representatives of China’s brightest students

The internet giant Baidu Wenku, brought 10 of China’s brightest students to Nottingham’s Jubilee and University Park campuses on Tuesday August 4 as part of a seven-day UK tour themed “Science as Human’s Belief” of leading British universities, including Oxford and Cambridge.

The National Higher Education Entrance Examination (Gaokao) is the biggest annual event in China’s education deciding whether a school leaver can go to a Chinese university, and which university he or she can go.  In June 2015 more than 9.4 million candidates took the exam and the 10 candidates were carefully selected by Baidu Wenku from eight provinces.

Nobel Prize winner

On the day, Baidu representatives, and the Gaokao students, met with Sir Peter Mansfield, inventor of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and 2003 Nobel Prize winner.

Accompanied by Lady Mansfield, he told the story of MRI’s discovery, use today and in the future, along with a tour of the MRI facilities. Sir Peter provided the students with a personal insight into his Nobel Prize winning research, and also gave them invaluable advice to help them with their later studies and careers. The group also attended the Nottingham Confucius Institute, meeting with staff from the Confucius Institute and the Asia Business Centre, along with Nottingham students with mandarin skills.

The visit included the signing of a Nottingham-Baidu collaboration agreement, outlined potential ‘data-archiving’ projects, funding streams, staff and student placements and technical support.

Digital expertise

Baidu came to The University of Nottingham after learning about its digital expertise and initiatives, such as Horizon, the Digital Copyright Centre and the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) projects with the British Library. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Ms Li Xiaowan, Director of Reading Division, Baidu; Professor Chris Rudd, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and incoming Provost at The University of Nottingham Ningbo Campus and witnessed by Professor Hai-Sui Yu, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Global Engagement.

Professor Hai-Sui Yu said: “Baidu Gaokao Champion’s UK visit provides a great opportunity for the Champions to widen their horizons to learn and to be inspired by UK’s best higher education institutions. “As Britain’s global university and the first foreign university to establish a campus in China 11 years ago, The University of Nottingham is the ideal choice for China’s brightest students to engage with our learning, research and knowledge exchange activities. I wish them every success in their chosen path.”

Outstanding work with China

Professor Chris Rudd, Provost UNNC and Chair of Nottingham Confucius Institute said: “It is fantastic to welcome both Baidu Wenku and the Gaokao Champions to The University of Nottingham and have the opportunity to showcase the University’s outstanding work in China. I was particularly impressed when I met with the students and heard their stories over lunch.”

Speaking in relation to the MoU signed with Baidu Wenku and the commercial discussions, Professor Rudd said: “We see enormous potential in our collaborations with Baidu Wenku, particularly with the Horizon Digital Economy Research Hub. Baidu Wenku have 50 million users with over 500 million views per day and I am sure we shall collaborate both in terms of research and student internships.”

Later during the day, the delegation visited the Sir Clive Granger Building, where Professor Simon Gaechter and colleagues explained the story and impact of the Economics Nobel Prize and paid tribute to its winner, Sir Granger.

Growing links with China

Councillor Nick McDonald, Portfolio Holder for Jobs, Growth and Transport, said: “We are really delighted that representatives of Baidu, the world’s largest Chinese-language search engine, and China’s top 10 Gaokao student champions, chose to visit Nottingham and The University of Nottingham as part of their UK tour.

“As their visit will be filmed and shown on China’s equivalent of the BBC, this will be a great opportunity to reinforce the city’s and university’s growing reputation in China for links in education, trade and research and I’m sure that the signing of a Nottingham-Baidu collaboration agreement will only serve to further enhance these growing links.”