Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) is a public university founded in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone of China.
SUSTech offers an unparalleled learning and research experience at the scientific and technological frontiers.
SUSTech offers unprecedented opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to work alongside the faculty to explore and tackle both fundamental and practical problems.
The Global Engagement Office (GEO) is responsible for forming and implementing a coherent strategy to promote the University’s international development and global profile.
The undergraduate admission of SUSTech adopts comprehensive evaluation enrollment mode based on national college entrance examination.The graduate admission of SUSTech currently adopts joint training mode.
The main duties of SUSTCEF is to accept the donations from the domestic and foreign associations, enterprises, trading companies and individuals, and establish the funding projects depending on the demands of the university and the wishes of the donors.
Guo Yurong, University Council Chairperson of SUSTech, has worked in the education services sector in Shenzhen for decades. President Chen Shiyi, on the other hand, was a tenured professor in the United States and Vice President of Peking University. How do these two people from such different backgrounds work together so well to build SUSTech, a leading university in China? To find out the reasons, journalist Qian Wei from China Newsweek set up an in-depth interview with both Guo and Chen.
Qian: Dear University Council Chairperson, can you explain the importance of SUSTech to Shenzhen City?
Guo: Shenzhen is already a first-class city in China, which requires a first-class university to push for its further development. A first-class university can attract talents from all over the country, and promote cultural dynamics in a city -- especially a young one like Shenzhen. The reality is, Shenzhen's education field pales in comparison with its economic power. Before SUSTech, there were no top-ranking universities in Shenzhen. In a way, SUSTech is bringing Shenzhen a new hope in its education field.
Qian: Dear President Chen, as the previous Vice President and Dean of Engineering at Peking University, you seemed to have it all. What made you come to SUSTech and start over?
Chen: Peking University is already the best university in China -- there's nothing I can do to make it significantly better. But PKU has taught me to challenge myself and try new things. Compared with Beijing, Shenzhen needed massive development in the education field. Also, what Shenzhen has achieved in economic reform, technological revolution and talent policies proved its undeniable potential. Moreover, it had been my dream to start an innovative university in China ever since I left the United States.
Qian: What is Shenzhen's expectation for SUSTech?
Guo: SUSTech was originally designed to focus on basic research and learn from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. However, as the high-tech industry in Shenzhen was developing at a rapid speed, SUSTech responded to Shenzhen's needs by combining research with entrepreneurship. In other words, SUSTech has become more innovative because of Shenzhen's expectations, and will strive to become a world-class research university to meet Shenzhen’s further expectations.
Qian: What are the mission and educational philosophy of SUSTech?
Guo: SUSTech's mission is "rooted in China, striving for a world-class university," and its educational philosophy is "research, innovation, and entrepreneurship." The philosophy reflects the importance of basic research, and more importantly, the integration of innovative technology and societal needs. SUSTech is striving to connect university, industry and the society, as well as contributing to the urban development of Shenzhen in its unique way. For instance, our research projects are largely based on the needs of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (where Shenzhen is in the center), and we allow professors one day of leave per week for academically-inclined startup projects. We are learning from Stanford and MIT in these aspects, and we hope we will discover our unique route in the future.
Qian: It is reported that SUSTech wants to be the Stanford of China. What can we learn from Stanford?
Chen: I once talked to the President of Stanford, who believed entrepreneurship is the best thing others could learn from Stanford. As a high-tech hub, Shenzhen happens to be a perfect place for fostering entrepreneurship. That's why we have emulated some of Stanford's policies. However, Stanford cannot be copied, and SUSTech should be able to find its way and represent Shenzhen as a unique first-class university.
Qian: What is the spirit of SUSTech?
Guo: It's only been six years since SUSTech was founded, so we are all still thinking about the best words to describe the SUSTech spirit. But if I have to give you an answer right now, it should be "dare to venture, dare to try, and dare to take the lead" or "striving for excellence." Working at SUSTech resembles entrepreneurs collaborating with full passion at the beginning of China’s economic reform since everyone dares to venture and be innovative.
Chen: I agree with Guo Yurong on her choice of the SUSTech spirit. The truth is, there is not enough time for us to come up with our official university spirit. But we are from different backgrounds, and we brought our own culture into SUSTech, making it an inclusive and progressive entity. I believe with Shenzhen's entrepreneurial and hi-tech foundation, SUSTech will form its own culture and spirit over the next two or three decades.
Qian: What are the keys to SUSTech's success? In other words, what important policies are here to stay at SUSTech?
Guo: By sticking to reform and innovation, we are building a strong faculty team, and combining advanced western measures with Chinese characteristics.
Chen: The implementation of a board of trustees in the university governance structure, the residential college system, frequent advisor-student communication, an all-English teaching environment, laboratory research opportunities in a student's sophomore year, the declaration of their major in their junior year, and multiple international exchange programs.
Qian: Many traditional top-level universities are reforming its human resources system. In the meantime, they are receiving more support from municipal, provincial and national governments. It seems SUSTech educational reform “edge” has been weakened. Have you thought of a way to deal with the competition?
Chen: In my opinion, Shenzhen's attraction for talents is more than just salary, career outlook or academic connections. Apart from being an innovative hub, Shenzhen has almost the best air quality among all major Chinese cities. Located in the subtropical climate region, Shenzhen is surrounded by beautiful bays and evergreen hills. The abovementioned environmental factors will be what keeps talent in Shenzhen.
Qian: President Chen, as one of the founders of Westlake Institute for Advanced Study, what do you think of its recent success and its competition with SUSTech? What were your roles when you were at Westlake Institute for Advanced Study?
Chen: Westlake Institute for Advanced Study is a private institution, while SUSTech is a public one with abundant funds and resources. SUSTech doesn't have to worry about securing funding. However, I don’t want to put Westlake Institute for Advanced Study against us -- we are both innovators in China's education field. I also want to point out that I am still a board member of Westlake Institute for Advanced Study so I will support both SUSTech and Westlake with all my heart.
Qian: How do you facilitate SUSTech's relationship with the Shenzhen Municipal Government? Do you think the municipal government has limited SUSTech in any way?
Chen: I'd like to see this issue from another perspective. You can compare our neighbors, Hong Kong, as an example. It is widely recognized as one of the most democratic societies in the world, but its universities still need to negotiate with the government rather than defy it. On a global scale, MIT couldn't have risen to the top without responding to the US government's needs during the Second World War; and Caltech's development has been tied to its collaborations with both NASA and the US Department of Defense for many years.
Qian: What other favorable policies do you expect from the government?
Guo: We certainly hope that we can play a bigger role in the "National Double-Class University Movement," which is linked to our mission.
Chen: I hope SUSTech will be given more autonomy in awarding doctoral degrees and deciding quotas for graduate school.
English Translation by Fan Yining
Proofreading by Chris Edwards