(ECNS) — The Ministry of Education has given the go-ahead to Westlake University, China's first private research university, amid innovative efforts to develop a new type of higher educational institute.
The non-profit research institute and university will be dedicated to the advancement of natural sciences and frontier engineering disciplines under the administration of Jiangsu Province.
The ministry said the university will start by offering postgraduate education to a maximum of 5,000 full-time students, with an undergraduate program to be launched when the time is right.
The current Westlake Institute for Advanced Study (WIAS) is the predecessor of Westlake University, of which Shi Yigong, a famed biophysicist and former vice-president of Tsinghua University, is expected to be first president.
Shi Yigong and six other top scholars - Chen Shiyi, Pan Jianwei, Rao Yi, Qian Yingyi, Zhang Hui and Wang Jian - proposed establishing a new and advanced research-oriented university in March 2015. In July that year, Westlake Education Foundation was registered as a legal entity that serves as the main fundraising support for Westlake University. WIAS was established on Dec. 10, 2016.
Westlake University will include 12 disciplines at first-class level - biology, biomedical engineering, pharmaceutical science, physics, mathematics, chemistry, basic medical sciences, computer science and technology, electronic science, optical engineering, material sciences and mechanical engineering.
The university will have two campuses, with the current Yunqi campus covering an area of 4.4 hectares. It has already signed up 37 top scholars from across the world after five rounds of global recruitment and aims to expand the faculty to 210 in 2021 and 300 in 2026.
An official with Zhejiang's department of education said the provincial government has made it a strategy to take an 'unconventional' approach in the development of higher education. The official also said Zhejiang will roll out a series of measures such as educational support for the children of high-caliber professionals to support Westlake University.