Westlake University opens up new future for students in science and engineering
After years of preparation, Hangzhou's Westlake University rolled out the welcome mat for its first class of undergraduates on July 31.
Westlake University is one of the pilot universities in China that can enroll students of Grade 2 in high school.
This year, entry was only accessible to students in Zhejiang Province. All the applicants went through multiple examinations before being accepted.
The 60 students came from 32 top-notch high schools in China's eastern Zhejiang Province.
The university, which focuses on science and engineering, selected applicants showing interest and intellectual potential in those subjects, displaying strong adaptability, versatility, empathy and social engagement with a global outlook.
Shi Yigong, president of Westlake University, was a famous professor of molecular biology at Princeton University.
After returning to China in 2008, he joined the prestigious Tsinghua University and became the vice president. In 2018, he resigned from Tsinghua to become the president of Westlake.
All degree courses in Westlake are taught in English. The undergraduate curriculum combines rigorous, broad-based fundamentals with in-depth specializations.
During the first two years, students have a common curriculum covering humanities, social sciences and communication, and then choose a major at the end of the second year.
Each student is assigned a mentor. The university has four residential colleges based on the traditional Chinese academy system and world-renowned universities.
Initially offered majors include biological sciences, chemistry, physics, electronic and information engineering, and materials science and engineering, with more major options being developed.
Shi put forward three requirements for the inaugural class on the opening ceremony:
First, embrace the big things.
Each generation bears the distinctive brand of its times. Different attitudes toward the times determine different lives in the end.
"The university is a space that integrates diverse cultures," Shi said.
"I hope you can look at the world calmly and confidently.
"Listen to voices from different cultures, understand the connotations of different backgrounds, respect the diversity of the world, and work to solve the global challenges for humanity."
The second requirement is to take a great role in developing the country and world.
"In many corners of the world, even in some impoverished areas of China, there are many people less fortunate than you," he said.
"Human beings are facing survival threats such as food, energy and environmental crises.
"You not only carry the expectations from your parents and teachers, but you must also take on the responsibility for the society and the global village."
The last requirement is to seek the higher levels of spiritual world.
"The university will not only provide you with a solid professional education and systematic scientific training, but also create an atmosphere of unrestrained and equal consultation," Shi said.
"You will interact with outstanding scientists, ask questions and find answers together, and we hope you will actively listen, think and argue.
"Only then will you truly have the key to unlocking the doors of science."
In 2015, central government approved a proposal from seven prominent individuals: Shi Yigong, Chen Shiyi, Pan Jianwei, Rao Yi, Qian Yingyi, Zhang Hui and Wang Jian, for piloting a new private research university.
"People ask me why I chose Westlake University. The answers could vary according to different people," said Wang Xinyi from Zhenhai High School of Ningbo. "For me, I believe I can have dreams come true in Westlake University and grow into the person that I want to be."