Birmingham University – China Rail Safety Degrees

The critical activities of managing safety and risk across China’s vast and complex railway network is being aided by a new programme launched at the University of Birmingham, UK. The course in Railway Risk and Safety Management has been jointly developed by the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) University of Birmingham and the High Integrity Systems Engineering (HISE) Group, University of York, UK. The first intake of graduate diploma students will enrol at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China later this month.

The need for railway safety continues to grow in China, with increasing speeds of train operation, heavier axle loads and the carriage of hazardous goods all requiring risk assessments and management by trained professionals. With little educational provision currently available in China to train these much-needed experts, the launch of the Railway Risk and Safety Management graduate diploma at Zhejiang University aims to address the current skills shortage.

The broad, interdisciplinary approach of the course covers such areas as railway systems engineering, risk and human resource management and safety-critical systems engineering. On completion of the graduate diploma, students at Zhejiang University are then eligible to undertake a Master of Research (MRes) in Railway Risk Management at the University of Birmingham.

The launch of the graduate diploma follows a successful pilot Masters of Science (MSc) programme in Railway Risk and Safety Management, which was attended by 10 students from China at the University of Birmingham from September 2013. Along with the graduate diploma taught in China at Zhejiang University, the MSc programme will continue to run in 2014-15 at the University of Birmingham and the University of York, welcoming another cohort of Chinese students.

Speaking at the launch, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard Williams OBE FREng FTSE, University of Birmingham commented:

“With our partners at the University of York, Zhejiang University and the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, we are working together to improve the safe operation of China’s railways by educating the next generation of practitioners. This partnership reaffirms the University of Birmingham’s wholehearted engagement within China.

“We recognise that British and Chinese railways have their own specific features. However, as part our teaching on the course at Zhejiang University, we collectively seek to ensure that a common approach is taken to the generic issues involved in ensuring safe and dependable operations across our respective railway infrastructures.”

Professor Yonghua Song, Executive Vice President, Zhejiang University, said in his address:

“China has been making considerable progress in its railway development to meet the high domestic demand of transportation. This impressive project of rail development depends largely on high technology and innovation, which require a pool of talent with specialised knowledge and experience in many different areas, including system safety engineering.

“We are excited to co-operate with our partner universities in the UK to share their expertise, to leverage each other’s strengths and to provide quality education in system safety engineering for students and engineers.”

The development of the Railway Risk and Safety Management MSc programme has been made possible with sponsorship by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation. They have committed £1.5 million of funding for the partnership between University of Birmingham, University of York and Zhejiang University over the next five years.

The launch of the programme took place at the University of Birmingham on Wednesday 3 September. The event was attended by Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor, University of Birmingham, Li Guoqiang, First Secretary of Education, Chinese Embassy in the UK, Professor John Robinson, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Learning, Teaching and Information, University of York and Paul Seller, Transportation Director, Lloyd’s Register Foundation. Students and staff who participated in the pilot programme also attended the launch.

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