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Collaborative PhD Programmes

Chinese students

What are the benefits of Collaborative PhD programme?

Yan Hua (Aaron), one of the first scholars to pass his PhD viva examination through the Warwick and Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech, China) Collaborative PhD programme, will graduate from Warwick’s School of Engineering in early 2022. The Programme is part of our renewed agreement with SUSTech which offers scholarships for Warwick PhD programmes, and further deepens and broadens Warwick’s links with a fast-rising Chinese research university.

Hua says of his PhD in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)-Enabled Wireless Powered Communication Networks and Optimization, "I am very lucky to have had supervisors from both universities during my PhD study. Complementary supervision and resources provided by the two universities have made me who I am today.

At Warwick, I trained in academic research with Dr. Yunfei Chen, while at SUSTech, I trained in Engineering practice, which is Prof. Shuang-Hua Yang’s focus. The two research teams led by my two supervisors respectively provided a lot of opportunities for me to share and discuss my investigations, which is a great help to my research. It's been a really valuable resource for me.”

His Warwick supervisor, Dr. Yunfei Chen, is equally enthusiastic about the benefits of the collaborative PhD programme, both for Warwick and his own research.

Dr Yunfei Chen

“The university gains from Hua's contribution by increasing its research capacity and reputation in UAV communications. The publications he has generated are very influential in the research community.

The relationship [with SUSTech] has also allowed me to gain deeper insights into the other side of wireless sensor networks, which the co-supervisor is working on, and thus give me a full picture of the whole research area. I also visited SUSTech once to give a talk and was amazed by their facilities in the lab and their demonstrations. By having a co-funded PhD, I was also able to get a big helping hand for my research on UAV communications.”

Five new PhD students per year receive scholarships from SUSTech to spend two years at Warwick followed by a further two years at SUSTech. Co-supervision is provided throughout the four-year programme and students graduate with a Warwick PhD upon successful completion.

The agreement was originally set up to allow SUSTech faculty members to supervise PhD students in collaboration with top overseas universities. This provided much-needed research capacity and built collaborative research links while the new institution waited for China’s Ministry of Education to grant it PhD awarding powers.

The scholarships are open to students of any nationality or institution who meet the eligibility criteria. As SUSTech teaches entirely in English, candidates do not need prior knowledge of Mandarin Chinese (though SUSTech offers supplementary courses in Chinese language during the two years of residence there to help with day-to-day language needs outside the campus).

Since 2016, a total of 18 students have enrolled in the programme. While many of SUSTech’s faculties now hold their own PhD-awarding powers, continued demand from students and faculty members at both institutions supported the case for extending the initial agreement beyond its original five-year term to August 2026, allowing a further 25 more students to join the programme.

Though SUSTech is primarily a STEMM-focussed institution, it has recently established a School of Humanities and Social Sciences, incorporating a Centre for Humanities, Social Science Centre, Research Centre for Higher Education, Art Centre and a Centre for Language Education. It also has a School of Business, a School of Design, and a School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

"The university gains from Hua's contribution by increasing its research capacity and reputation in UAV communications. The publications he has generated are very influential in the research community."

Dr. Yunfei Chen


If you are interested in co-supervising a student under this programme and/or building a collaboration with SUSTech researchers and would like more information, please contact:

International Partnerships Manager (E and SE Asia).

Scholarship opportunities

Though the first round of SUSTech scholarship applications for entry to the programme in October 2022 closed on 1 November 2021, a further round may be held in April to fill any remaining scholarship vacancies for the coming academic year. Heads of Department will be notified of any further opportunities.


SUSTech is a public university founded in 2011 in Shenzhen, one of the most prosperous and dynamic cities in China. Despite its relative youth, SUSTech has received world-wide attention as a promising young university of science and technology, ranking 38th out of 118 universities in mainland China in the 2021 QS World University Ranking. The 2019 Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities placed SUSTech 1st in China for its quality of research (measured by Field-Weighted Citation Impact).