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Sussex celebrates first overseas graduation ceremony in China

It was celebration time for 127 Chinese students at the weekend, when the University of Sussex held its first-ever graduation ceremony in China.

The University offered all alumni from China and surrounding countries the opportunity to attend the special graduation in Beijing on Saturday (28 March), surrounded by their family and friends  - even if they had previously attended a graduation ceremony in Brighton.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Farthing, said: “The University has recognised that many of our Chinese students were not able before to have their loved ones travel to the UK to be with them at such an important time in their lives.”

The ceremony in Beijing’s China World Hotel was also an opportunity to mark Sussex’s strong collaborations with some of the leading universities in China. 

Professor Chen Yulu, President of Renmin University, one of the University’s partner institutions in China, received an honorary doctorate at the ceremony.

Professor Farthing said: “The award is an indication of our deep respect and acknowledgement of the significant academic and research work undertaken by Professor Yulu and his colleagues.”

He added: “Our partnerships and work with Renmin, Beijing Normal, Nanjing, Peking and Tsinghua universities have meant that we have been able to offer our students and faculty numerous research and learning opportunities. In turn, these universities have benefitted from the work we are doing in the UK.

“Our collaborations have ranged from gaining a greater understanding of our countries’ history, innovation in agriculture, electric vehicles, solar energy, technology transfer to new developments in business and management.”

As links with Chinese universities grow, so too do the number of Sussex students and alumni from China. Around 1,300 Chinese students (including 850 from Hong Kong) are currently studying in Brighton, and Sussex now has a total of 3,200 Chinese alumni.

Sussex alumna Zhang Xin, who appeared in a video during the ceremony, achieved a degree in Economics at Sussex and a Masters at Cambridge, then worked on Wall Street before returning to China. Her company, SOHO China Ltd, has undertaken a series of award-winning building projects that have made her one of China’s most successful property developers. 

Other notable Chinese alumni have taken the spirit of Sussex with them into their chosen professions, including: Liu Huimin (CEO of China Life Asset Management); Boqing Zhang (CEO of Scien-kebo Biotechnology China); and Gongbo Chen (CEO of Ningbo Chengwei Trading).

Following the ceremony the graduates, alumni  and their guests attended a cocktail reception in the foyer of the hotel’s Grand Ballroom with members of University staff and faculty.

Reflecting on “an enjoyable and memorable occasion”, the Vice-Chancellor said: “We very much hope that the ceremonies will become a regular event and that we can continue to bring Sussex directly to China.”

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Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Wednesday, 1 April 2015

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