First Chinese Vice Chancellor of UK university benefits from reform and opening up

Max Lu (Photo provided by Max Lu)

Professor Max Lu joined the University of Surrey as President and Vice-Chancellor in 2016. As the first Chinese Vice-Chancellor in the UK, he told Xinhua that he is the beneficiary of China’s reform and opening up and is willing to continue serving as the bridge and ambassador between the east and west for future exchanges.

The Vice-Chancellor was born into a rural family in east China’s Shandong province. He started helping the family with housework at a very early age. Recalling these early days, Lu said the hardship was an asset to him.

In 1979, Lu attended the national college entrance examination and was accepted by an engineering college in northeast China (now the Northeastern University). He completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees there and worked in the university after graduation.

In the early 1980s, an increasing number of college students chose to study abroad as China gradually opened its door to the world. Lu was among the first batch of overseas Chinese students after the reform and opening up.

He came to study nanotechnology in Australia with a scholarship from the University of Queensland, graduating with a Ph.D. Most of Lu’s fellows chose to work and live in Australia after graduation, but he had the opportunity to lecture in Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

Lu said that the job in Singapore was challenging as it required teaching as well management practices.

In 2015, the academic stood out from over 100 candidates for the Vice-Chancellor position at the University of Surrey, a leading university that excels at microsatellite technology, industrial cooperation, and knowledge innovation and application, said Lu.

It’s not the title that attracted him, Lu explained. He hoped to seize the chance to practice his ideas to help universities better serve society.

For many years, Professor Lu has been forging cooperation between Surrey and Chinese universities and enterprises. He also encouraged overseas Chinese in the UK to contribute to the win-win cooperation between China and the UK with their experience, wisdom and academic knowledge.

Western society was biased towards Chinese people three decades ago. With reform and opening up, China and other countries have indeed benefited from increased exchanges.

It’s all thanks to the reform and opening up, said Lu. Without the policy, it’s hard to imagine that there would be such opportunities for this generation to study abroad. The country’s economic and social development has reached a higher level, and overseas Chinese people enjoy greater respect than before. These facts cannot be separated from the reform and opening up.