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Monday 28 September 2015

China Centre Launch

This week, representatives from the Chinese Embassy and maritime industry attended the joint launch of Southampton Solent University’s China Centre Maritime (CCM) and the Gender, Empowerment and Multicultural Crews Project (GEM) at an event at the International Maritime Organisation in London.

Speakers at the event included: (L-R) Professor Graham Baldwin, Kimberly Karlshoej, Dr Kate Pike, Dr Minghua Zhao and Professor Mike Barnett

The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Graham Baldwin welcomed representatives from the Chinese Embassy and maritime industry – including COSCO, IMarest and the China Investors Club – to the evening event on Tuesday 22 September, timed to coincide with International Maritime Day.

Speaking at the launch he said, “We’ve been delivering maritime education and training for many years now and it’s one of the really distinctive features of our University. With our location, resources and rich history of teaching maritime programmes we believe we are in a strong position to continue to be a leader in the world of maritime education and training, but we want to further it, develop it, and invest in it.

“The University’s newly launched strategy highlights the important role of research and innovation and internationalisation; these two projects are perfect examples of our commitment to these areas.”

Professor Graham Baldwin, Vice-Chancellor of Southampton Solent University

The University’s China Centre (Maritime), aims to use its academic excellence, expertise in Chinese maritime affairs and its excellent links with both the Chinese and British maritime communities, to act as a bridge, bringing the two countries closer, especially in maritime-related affairs. It will promote research and disseminate the studies of the role of China as a major maritime nation.

One of the research areas being undertaken by the Centre is the GEM project, an in-depth piece of research, sponsored by the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, investigating the welfare needs of seafarers, particularly women, and how they are treated on-board in today’s multicultural working environment.

Cadets from the University’s world-renowned Warsash Maritime Academy also attended the launch

Kimberly Karlshoej, Head of the ITF Seafarers’ Trust spoke about the timely need for the research being undertaken by the GEM project. “We are missing out on a lot of skilled, resilient and competent women that would add immense value to our industry. The term seafarer is gender blind and so are the seas, this is why this research is so important.

She added, “This research will help us to understand the context from a sea farer’s, men or women’s, point of view and will help identify the barriers and the frustrations that they face. I think it is safe to say that in the future it will be essential to strive towards a maritime industry that is inclusive and that views its lifeblood, its sea farers, as more than a sum of its parts.”

Kimberly Karlshoej, Head of the ITF Seafarers’ Trust

Speaking about the GEM research, Project Manager and Senior Research Fellow Kate Pike says: “It aims to improve the welfare and working conditions on-board for all crew by empowering and supporting women who may be experiencing discrimination and harassment. It will identify gaps in current knowledge – with regard to training and retention – and raise awareness of the wider issues surrounding multicultural crews so that women can play a fuller role on board ships and beyond.”

As well as learning more about the GEM research, attendees heard from Mr LI Guoqiang, First Secretary of the Chinese Embassy and and CMM Director, Dr Minghua Zhao.

Dr Minghua Zhao, who previously worked at Greenwich University, is thrilled to be part of the new centre, she says: “I was attracted to the post by Solent’s world-renowned reputation for maritime studies coupled with its focus on building stronger links with China. With such an important national economy there is a lot of debate about its maritime role, both now and in the future and studying its maritime role is gaining more importance.”

“China’s importance in the maritime industry is growing, it has the second largest commercial fleet in the world and it is the largest shipbuilding country in the world,” she continues, “The centre’s aim is to promote closer ties between China and Britain that go well beyond maritime matters.

Plans for the Centre include the development of a maritime MBA, offered by only one other UK university; the establishment of a team of PhD students and a range of research projects; and two-way exchanges between staff and students from the University and partner institutions in China.

Mr LI Guoqiang, First Secretary of the Chinese Embassy

In his closing remarks , Mr LI Guoqiang, First Secretary of the Chinese Embassy spoke of the growing importance of educational collaborations between China and the UK, he went on to say, “University leaders in both countries also are engaging each other with much great frequency than ever before with aspirations for further strengthening collaborations in all areas. Last year more than 100 Chinese university students and college presidents came to the UK universities for leadership development programmes.

He went to say, “Using its academic excellence and its expertise in Chinese maritime affairs and its links with both the Chinese and British maritime communities, the CCM will further contribute to the education collaboration between China and the UK, especially in maritime-related fields.”