Global universities convene online to share experience in combating COVID-19
An online meeting, organized by the Asian Universities Alliance (AUA), was attended by 15 universities around the world to discuss fighting the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday afternoon.
The meeting featured the sharing of university response measures, with a view to identifying areas of cooperation on education and scientific research. In this way, the meeting echoed sentiments expressed at the G20 Extraordinary Leaders' Summit on COVID-19 on March 26, where President Xi Jinping called on the international community to strengthen confidence, act with unity and work together in a collective response against COVID-19. During the meeting, presidents, vice-presidents and representatives from the 15 universities shared their actions, experience and views on topics such as the roles universities can play in education and scientific research during the pandemic.
In his opening speech, Qiu Yong, Tsinghua University President and President of AUA, welcomed the university leaders to join in the online forum organized by AUA. He noted that this is a difficult time for all of us and the outbreak of COVID-19 reminds us that we share a global community.
“As we face unprecedented global challenges, it is time to reflect on what makes a university great. Universities should proactively respond to challenges and shoulder responsibilities to demonstrate their commitment to society,” said President Qiu. He noted that the essence of education is to empower the lives of students, with the prerequisite of ensuring their health and well-being. Universities should take the safety and health of students, faculty and staff as their top priority.
To curb the spread of the disease, Tsinghua has begun offering online classes to students across the country and the world since Feb 17th. “Teaching and learning should not be undermined under any circumstances. University education is neither spontaneous nor sporadic. Rather, it is a well-designed systematic program with comprehensive planning.” Qiu noted.
“Drawing on traditional strengths in academic research and innovation, universities play an essential role in epidemic-prevention efforts. Universities can demonstrate the aspiration of education by taking on social responsibilities” he added，noting that Tsinghua swiftly initiated COVID-19 research projects after the outbreak and that substantial progress has been made in basic medical research, vaccine research, and fast testing kits, as well as in intelligent epidemic prevention systems and equipment.
“Universities can demonstrate the aspiration of education by taking on social responsibilities,” said President Qiu. Over the past two months, Tsinghua has maintained close contact with other university leaders and global partners, exchanging best practice and providing mutual support. Meanwhile, massive online resources to the public have been opened, and “clone class” courses created to share online educational resources with universities in Wuhan and other remote areas, and a team of medical workers dispatched to Wuhan and volunteer works organized, both online and off-line.
President Qiu also announced that Tsinghua has set up a research fund to encourage and support its faculty to initiate joint research with international partners on COVID-19.
“Universities serve as the lighthouse of human civilization. We share a common objective, which is to make the world a better place. At this critical moment, universities should play an essential role in promoting confidence, trust and unity among the whole world. Together, stronger.” Qiu concluded.
During the meeting, the following university leaders shared their respective anti-epidemic efforts and experience in managing online education and scientific research, and prevention and control work: Bundhit Eua-arporn, President, Chulalongkorn University; Wei Shyy, President, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; Subhasis Chaudhuri, Director, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay; Tan Eng Chye, President, National University of Singapore; Shigeo Katsu, President, Nazarbayev University; Ghaleb Alhadrami Al Breiki, Acting Vice Chancellor & Provost, United Arab Emirates University; Agustin Kusumayati, University Secretary & Head of Universitas Indonesia Task Force for COVID-19, Universitas Indonesia; Yves Flückiger, Rector, University of Geneva; Yonghua Song, Rector, University of Macau; Arif Al-Hammadi, Executive Vice President, Khalifa University; Akira Fujimaki, Trustee (Education and Academic Information Infrastructure), Vice President, Nagoya University; Hong Keehyun, Vice President for Academic Affairs & Dean of Graduate School, Seoul National University; Sawako Shirahase, Executive Vice President, The University of Tokyo; and Antonio Fiori, Rector’s Delegate for International Relations with Asia and Oceania, University of Bologna. They expressed their strong willingness to join hands, strengthen collaborative endeavors and discover solutions for the fight against COVID-19. The heads also discussed topics including collaborative activities with the AUA and beyond and resource sharing, among other topics. Tsinghua University Vice President and Provost Yang Bin chaired the meeting.
Reporter: Li Han, Cassie