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University of Groningen given leading role in EU-China collaboration in higher education

17 October 2016
Tuning EU-China project meeting

The modernization of higher education degree programmes is not only high on the political agenda in Europe (the ‘Bologna Process’), but also in China. The Chinese consider it vital to align the programmes on offer with the needs of society. The globally operating International Tuning Academy (working under the auspices of the University of Groningen) and the Chinese Ministry for Education have joined forces to address this problem.

After a successful initial project revolving around updating the disciplines Business Administration, Educational Sciences and Building & Architecture, the European Commission and the Chinese government have now confirmed their intention to intensify the collaboration. The European Commission has asked the Tuning Academy to take the lead.

New Chinese credit system

The second phase of the Tuning EU-China project was officially launched in Beijing on Wednesday 12 October. Three new disciplines will be reviewed: Information Technology & Computer Sciences, Nursing, and Logistics & Transport. Work on developing a Chinese credit system similar to the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) will also commence. ECTS is already the basis for organizing higher education in all European countries. The University of Groningen, represented by Robert Wagenaar (instigator of Tuning), has played a major role in developing this system over the last few decades.

Revolutionary step

A Chinese credit system along European lines is seen as a revolutionary step in China, which has no previous experience of a system like this. Every year, the lack of alignment between Europe and China in this respect forms a major obstacle to mutual collaboration and recognition of the qualifications of tens of thousands of students and graduates. Compatible credit systems in China and Europe would simplify mutual recognition considerably.

Breathing new life into the old Silk Road

A lot of weight is attached to collaboration in the discipline Logistics & Transport because of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ project launched in China in 2013. This project aims to breathe new life into the old Silk Road between China and the Middle East and Europe, introducing modern modes of transport and other resources. In China, this is seen as one of today’s key strategic areas in terms of the economy, and so trained specialists are urgently needed.

Thirty-five leading Chinese universities

The second phase of the Tuning EU-China project was launched during political discussions between the Chinese Minister of Education Ms Liu Yandong and Tibor Navracsics, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. Yandong stressed the importance of the initiative during formal and informal talks. The project, which is being carried out in a close partnership between the Chinese Ministry and the International Tuning Academy, involves more than 35 leading Chinese universities. The first results are expected in early 2018.

Two-day conference

The political discussions were followed by a two-day conference organized by the European University Association (EUA) and the National Center for Education Development Research of the Chinese Ministry. The conference also marked the Ministry’s 30th anniversary. Entitled the Sino-Europe Forum On Education Policy Think Tanks, the conference was attended by 150 experts. China hopes that hosting platforms like this will intensify its collaboration with the main global parties. Top officials from the Chinese Ministry for Education took the opportunity of the conference to stress relevance of the Tuning study, and attention was drawn to the current University of Groningen initiative to establish a branch campus in Yantai.

More information

  • Contact: Robert Wagenaar, Director of the International Tuning Academy Groningen
  • Website:

Last modified:19 December 2022 2.44 p.m.
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