Thirty exceptional students at leading universities in the UK and China took part in the inaugural Student Leader Innovation Experience. The programme was delivered by Common Purpose Student Experiences in partnership with China Youth Daily under the patronage of the All-China Youth Federation. The programme is sponsored by UnionPay International, the global arm of China UnionPay, who have operations across five continents.

The Student Leader Innovation Experience convenes 30 young leaders studying in the UK and China to deepen trust and dialogue between future leaders in both countries, as well as develop Cultural Intelligence – the ability to cross divides and thrive in multiple cultures. Over two parts – a week in the UK visiting London and Cardiff and a week in China next month, visiting Beijing and Shanghai – the students investigate the challenge: ‘What makes a city smart?’, exploring how cities can work better to tackle economic, environmental and social challenges.

The UK leg of the programme took place during the week of the 3rd UK-China People to People Dialogue between the governments of both countries, led by Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP for the UK and Vice Premier Liu Yandong for China.  Along with the Great Britain China Centre, students on the programme formed the youth strand at the plenary session of the Dialogue, asking questions of the delegation about education, obesity, sport and youth exchanges between the two countries.

Whilst in Cardiff, the participants received a warm welcome, attending a Gala Dinner hosted by the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, touring the Senedd – the National Assembly for Wales – and meeting with Welsh Government Deputy Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates AM.

The UK leg of the programme wrapped up with the final day hosted at global professional services firm EY, and saw the students present their smart city projects to a panel consisting of senior staff from Goldman Sachs, UK Trade & Industry, Google, China Youth Daily and EY.

Weihao Wu (BUAA) and Benni Ngwamah (University of York) talk about developing leadership skills on the programme.

Reflecting on their experiences during the week, participants had the following to say:

“It has been a truly remarkable experience that took me on a great self-reflecting and learning journey. We tend to view people as belonging to a certain group – this program helped me start seeing people as individuals who may belong to a different culture but have unique personalities and are inspirational.” Eva Georgieva, Student, University of Glasgow

“It was a really exciting day. The course is colourful and I have really benefitted a lot from the leadership learning. The CQ session widened my perspective and my knowledge about Culture.” Xiaofei Lai, Student, University of International Relations

“All the experiences, education and leadership skills that were gained through the programme will definitely bring a brighter future for us all.” Nico Dharmaputra, Student, King’s College London

“I feel like I have really learned a lot about innovation and the processes behind it. When I started the programme, I never expected that I would end up in such a passion filled team, nor did I expect to be so inspired by the idea.” Christy O’Driscoll, Student, University of Leeds 

“Thank you for the experience in the UK.  Respect different backgrounds and being a listener are the most important things I have learnt from this programme.” Yulong You, Student, Shanghai Jiatong University

Find out more about Common Purpose Student Experiences

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