The University of Shanghai for Science and Technology has become one of the world's most recognized educational institutions for engineering - thanks in part to the help of its German friends and colleagues.
The history of USST can be traced back to 1906, and today, it is known not only as a top flight school for future engineers, but also for those majoring in science, economics and management.
And it achieved that status, in part, by being one of the first universities in Shanghai to bolster its international credentials by cooperating with overseas educational institutes and universities.
More than one third of USST's undergraduate majors have now passed certification from internationally recognized organizations; a fundamental role in this achievement was played by a cooperative project between USST and Germany's HAW Hamburg. The cooperative education program, dating back to 1985, was among the key cultural achievements that led to the creation of the Shanghai-Hamburg Friendship City Program.
In 1998, USST and HAW Hamburg joined hands to recruit students majoring in electrical engineering and automation, and mechanical engineering and automation. In 2002, they started to recruit students majoring in international economics and trade.
This turned out to be standard practice for what was to come, as the university has continued to develop its cooperation with other schools to provide comprehensive, internationally recognized education. In 2006, the university established its first Chinese-foreign cooperatively run school - the Sino-British College, by Ministry of Education. In 2014, the university opened another two engineering education programs by working with Germany's HS Coburg and HS Furtwangen. During that same year, USST established its second Chinese-foreign cooperatively-run school - the Sino-German College.
At the same time, the university began to seek accreditation for its programs from international authoritative organizations, a move to ensure the quality of its courses, and adhere to internationally accepted standards for engineering education.
In 2004, two majors offered under the cooperation between USST and HAW Hamburg - electrical engineering (automation) and mechanical engineering (design) from Shanghai-Hamburg College - were accredited by ASIIN, the German Accreditation Agency for Study Program in Engineering, Informatics, Natural Sciences and Mathematics. USST was the first university in Asia to receive such accreditation, and since then, qualified graduates of these two majors can obtain both Chinese and German bachelor's degrees upon graduation. It is the first time a graduate who has studied in a Chinese university can receive a formal bachelor's degree from a German university, the university said.
In 2010, three majors under such cooperation passed through certification of ASIIN unconditionally, with the effective time for such accreditation reaching its upper limit of eight years.
In 2011, Analytical Instruments, Measurement and Sensor Technology, a Master's program with Germany's HS Coburg, also passed the certification of ASIIN.
Such professional accreditation from Germany's ASIIN helps USST to accelerate the pace for developing international education, and it also promotes the university's other majors to go for international standards, said Ding Xiaodong, USST president.
Indeed, since 2014, three engineering majors, developed by the university itself, passed the ASIIN certification, and two additional majors are under consideration by the organization.
Besides those, other international accreditations, including Business Education Accreditation, have been introduced. A total of four majors from the Sino-British College have received the certification of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) in the UK since 2006. The Business School of USST applied to become a member of The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International in the United States in 2011, and passed its certification in May 2018.
In 2015, the USST-Research Center was established, a move for the university to participate in establishing international standards and further boost educational reforms.
Accreditation from international professional organizations offers a good opportunity for us to identify our shortcomings and profit from positive experiences. We will become the root of China's engineering education, and meet professional standards that conform with the country's current condition, and link us to international levels, Ding said.