BEIJING, April 24 (Xinhuanet) -- The development of China's higher education is very impressive, said Stuart McCutcheon, Vice-Chancellor of University of Auckland of New Zealand during an interview with Xinhuanet.
"There has been explosive growth in the number of students in the Chinese system and number of graduates. Clearly the top universities in China are able to compete with the best universities in the world. You have a very large system, a very diverse system…I think that's very great achievement for the Chinese nation," he said Saturday.
McCutcheon was here attending the Global Summit of University Presidents during the centennial celebrations of Tsinghua University.
He said the centenary is an important milestone in the life of Tsinghua University. To reach 100 years is a very important time in the life of a university to look back on what has been achieved so far and think about what can be achieved in the future.
McCutcheon said universities play an important role in the society. On one hand, they create the next generation of leaders in many fields; on the other hand, they have the ability to bring their ideas to be on the big challenges of the world, such us food security, new energy, climate change, etc.
"We are training the great minds of tomorrow, the young people would be the future thinkers of tomorrow. We also help create the ideas that help solve the problems that we old people have created that we don’t want young people to inherit,？" said McCutcheon.
McCutcheon also stressed the importance of fostering cross-cultural talents with global vision. "I encourage my students to go to other universities and teaching staff to be have international background."
"Give all our students the experiences of living or studying in other countries, so Chinese students going to New Zealand and New Zealand students coming to China, students going all round the world, and probably more than one country, so that they have an understanding of some of the different cultures, religions, some of the political systems in the world," he added.
As the most famous university in New Zealand, the University of Auckland has 4,500 international students from about 100 countries around the world, including about 2,000 Chinese students.
McCutcheon spoke highly of the academic performance of the Chinese students studying there, "We found Chinese students are very hard working. They contribute to the life of university as we have the Chinese film festival, we have the Confucius Institute, which is the centre of Chinese culture, andwe have Asian food festival each year."
Talking about how a university can become a world-class one, McCutcheon emphasized on "having the best people".
"Lots of other things are important. Money is important and buildings are important. If you have really good students, and you have really good teachers, and you have really good staff, you'll have really good university."
"The best universities are about the best people. The most important thing is to attract the best people, look after the best people and keep the best people in your university."
McCutcheon took office as the Vice-Chancellor of University of Auckland in January 2005. Prior to that, he had served as Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University of Wellington since November 2000.