France-China cooperation : Université de Rennes 1 is opening a joint graduate school with Southeast University (Nanjing)

Named “Rennes Graduate school of Southeast University” [in French: “Ecole rennaise de 2e et 3e cycles de l’université du Sud-Est”], the new school is the first Franco-Chinese Institute to offer common Masters’ and Doctoral programmes. The school was inaugurated on Tuesday 22 May 2018 in Rennes on the Beaulieu Science campus in the presence of David Alis, president of Université de Rennes 1, and Zuo Wei, president of the council of Southeast University. The ceremony was held under the patronage of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.

Université de Rennes 1 is opening a joint graduate school with Southeast University (Nanjing)

Université de Rennes 1 is opening a joint graduate school with Southeast University (Nanjing)

In its initial phase, the Rennes school will offer Chinese and international students four Master’s degree programmes: signal and image processing, electronics, economic and financial engineering, and chemistry; as well as five doctoral programmes in the fields of: signal processing and telecommunications, electronics, economics, chemistry, biology and health.

The students, accommodated on the Southeast University campus, will obtain Master’s and/or Doctoral degrees awarded by both Southeast University and the Université de Rennes 1.  Admissions will follow Chinese national policy, and applicants must be able to justify a sufficient test score in English, as classes will be in English and Chinese. Université de Rennes 1 will provide at least a third of the teaching, and co-supervision will be favoured for PhDs. There are finally expected to be 25 students in each Master specialty (100 students in all) and 25 PhD students.

This strategic partnership forms part of a shared history between the two institutions that began almost 30 years ago. The cooperation started at the end of the 1980s in the field of healthcare science and technology, between the Laboratoire Traitement du Signal et de l'Image (LTSI) and its Nanjing partner, the Laboratory of Image Science and Technology (LIST), and was established by a Chinese researcher educated in Rennes. In April 2006, to enhance the dynamic between these two laboratories, the Centre de Recherche en Information Biomédicale sino-francais (CRIBs) was born, created in common between Inserm, Université de Rennes 1 and Southeast University. It was the first International Associated Laboratory (LIA) of Rennes 1 and of Southeast University, and the first for Inserm in the field of healthcare technology. This LIA, regularly evaluated by its supervising bodies, is still active today.

This laboratory had a leverage effect on the establishment of three international off-site Masters’ degrees in the fields of signal processing and electronics, starting in the academic year 20082009, then in the field of banking and finances in 2010.  Since then, almost 200 students have completed degrees in this way, via cooperation between the universities.


Signature of the LIA - © F. Obé

It is noteworthy that Franco-Chinese academic links go back a long way in Rennes. In fact, in 1964, when General de Gaulle was the first western leader to recognise the People’s Republic of China, Rennes was the first city in France to host Chinese students in this new historical context.

For David Alis, president of Université de Rennes 1, “This joint school perfectly illustrates the close and long-lasting relationships we wish to build with a small number of foreign sister universities. With Southeast University, the scientific and human relations built up between two generations of French and Chinese researchers, as well as the continuity of our institutional relations over more than 20 years, have particularly deepened our cooperation in terms of research and training. This joint school, with the support of France and the People’s Republic of China, a first for the Rennes site and for Brittany, reinforces the international dimension of the university and enriches perspectives for both our students and lecturer-researchers.”

For Wei Zuo, president of the council of Southeast University, "Today, we are reaping the benefits of 30 years of scientific collaboration, marked by excellent human relations, both between researchers and between the directors of the two institutions, and of a shared political constancy for the development of the international dimension of the two universities. This school not only allows us to broaden the areas of collaboration, but also to train young people for the future. It will allow us to host all the international students together in Nanjing, thus raising our international profile. It is also a unique instrument that will allow us to extend this exemplary cooperation to other institutions in France, Europe and worldwide." 



Wei Zuo and David Alis - © F. Obé

Southeast University (SEU) is one of the main national universities directly administered by the central government and the Chinese Ministry of Education. It is also one of the universities in the “double first class” project, funded by the central government to build-up and raise scientific disciplines and universities to the top ranks worldwide. SEU, which is on the list of top Chinese universities, is one of the oldest higher education institutions in China. Its origin dates back to 1902. It has become a comprehensive and research-oriented university. Internationalisation is one of the strategic development themes of SEU for the years to come. Currently, it has 31,470 full-time students, including 15,614 graduate students. The University has high level faculty with 2,832 teachers and lecturer-researchers, of which more than 80% have PhDs.


Université de Rennes 1 is a multidisciplinary university, recognised in France and internationally for its excellence and research dynamic. It has nearly 30 000 students and 1850 teachers and lecturer-researchers. It has made international openness one of its priorities. The continual development of international courses and scientific collaborations has led to remarkable results: in terms of teaching, the university offers degrees taught exclusively in English, double degrees with international partners and off-site training. Scientific collaborations also include about twenty international associated laboratories (LIA) and international research groups (GDRI) linked with CNRS or Inserm. There are presently more than 3600 international students (13% of students), including 315 Chinese, on courses at Rennes 1, and almost 1000 university students a year study or do an internship off-site.