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Focus on China

A high-growth market for research too

München, 11/09/2015

LMU‘s international network already spans the globe, but further opportunities abound in China, and the LMU-China Academic Network is dedicated to extending LMU’s contacts with Chinese universities.

One of LMU’s exchange partners: Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, Minhang Campus (Source: LMU International Office)

Studying law in China is, above all, a matter of attending lectures – lots of lectures. At LMU, on the other hand, law students are confronted early on with real legal cases. So for Wei Tian (27), who began his doctoral thesis at Renmin University in Beijing, this emphasis on practice provided an entirely new perspective on his chosen subject. He has now been enrolled in the CSC Scholarship Program at LMU for the past 2 years. “Here, in contrast to the approach in China, one learns how to handle real cases of the sort that turn up in everyday practice – and that is a good way to prepare students for their future careers as lawyers or judges,” says Wei, who is writing a thesis on the separation of powers under the supervision of Professor Stefan Korioth at the Chair of Public Law.

Wei is only one of many Chinese students and researchers who are now benefiting from the exchange programs that have been set up between LMU and Chinese universities. Several active research collaborations and programs for junior academics are now in operation. The CSC Scholarship Program, for instance, enables Chinese doctoral students to complete and submit their thesis work at LMU. In addition, more than 500 students from China come to Munich each year to study at LMU. Indeed, Chinese students now constitute the largest non-European contingent at the University. And LMU plans to extend its existing range web of contacts with Chinese institutions, with the help of the LMU-China Academic Network (LMU-ChAN), which has taken on the task of promoting further cooperations with a select set of China’s leading universities.

From LMU to China – and vice versa
“China is a growing market – for teaching, science and scholarship, as well as much else. The Network not only stimulates exchange and interaction in the areas of research and tuition, it also provides a framework for institutional cooperation between LMU and Chinese universities,” says LMU Vice-President for International Affairs, Professor Hans van Ess, who is himself a prominent sinologist and has first-hand knowledge of the country. China’s economy is still growing at a considerable rate, but Chinese universities are also developing at a rapid pace and, meanwhile, the best of them can stand comparison with the leading international schools. Moreover, both sides are keen to intensify contacts, as LMU is an attractive destination for Chinese students and researchers.

The LMU-China Academic Network is therefore actively engaged in further extending collaborations between LMU and an array of China’s leading universities, in particular Peking University in Beijing, Fudan University in Shanghai and Zhejiang University in Hangzhou. But Renmin University in Beijing, Tongji University and Jiao Tong University in Shanghai are also among LMU’s exchange partners.

Personal relationships are vital
The upcoming Scientific Forum, which takes place from the 13th to the 15th of November at LMU, will highlight the range of existing collaborations between LMU and its Chinese counterparts: In lectures, discussions and workshops, researchers from both countries will demonstrate how many joint projects are underway and how well they are working. “The Forum is basically a roadshow for LMU’s interactions with universities in China,” says van Ess. The Scientific Forum is intended to provide a platform that enables researchers and students from both countries to get to know one another and explore their common research interests. A survey of the joint projects that have been initiated so far reveals that specialists in the Biosciences, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Social Sciences and the Humanities have taken the lead in cultivating contacts with colleagues in China. One striking example is the LMU-Tongji Biomedical Junior Research Group Project, in which scientists led by LMU’s Dr. Stylianos Michalakis and Professor Martin Biel are working with colleagues in Shanghai in a search for new therapeutic agents for the treatment of certain hereditary diseases and specific types of tumors. They also hope to make it possible for more LMU researchers to carry out projects in Chinese laboratories. “So far, most of the traffic has come from China to Germany. But we now want to help LMU researchers who wish to do research in China,” Professor Biel explains. “And since the Shanghai region is a very interesting location for research, we hope that our project will help to create synergies between the two universities.”

This sort of interaction is also very worthwhile, because networks play a crucial role in getting things done in China: “Good contacts, and above all good personal relationships, are extremely important, much more so than we are accustomed to at home,” says Dr. Agnes Kneitz, LMU’s Liaison Officer in Peking. “Indeed, they are indispensable for the success of all cooperative ventures,” she adds. She too makes a significant contribution to promoting cooperation between LMU and Chinese partner institutions. As LMU’s official representative in China, she supplies her Chinese contacts with up-to-date information relating to research and teaching programs at LMU, and ensures that the relevant exchange agreements with Chinese universities are operating as intended. In particular, she is responsible for the initial selection of Chinese doctoral students who wish to participate in the CSC Scholarship Program. “It takes time and personal engagement to build up sustainable relationships, but students and researchers from both countries stand to benefit in equal measure from the LMU-China Academic Network,” she affirms.

The Scientific Forum organized by the LMU-China Academic Network (LMU-ChAN) takes place from the 13th to the 15th of November at LMU.