From UNNC graduate to cultural innovator, he received by UK King and Prime Minister

30 June 2024

student story 2024-mali2

He has appeared multiple times on CCTV’s programme Let’s Talk, engaging in discussions with Jack Ma, Jianlin Wang, Yaping Deng, Kobe Bryant, and other celebrities. 

He is the first Vice Chairman of the UK Interactive Entertainment Association, acting as a bridge in the Sino-foreign creative cultural industry cooperation, helping Chinese games and stories cross the seas and go global. 

He is also a committee member and judge of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), contributing to the renowned "British Oscars."

He is Li Ma, a 2013 graduate of the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC). Due to his significant contributions to the development of the creative cultural industry and efforts supporting various charities, Li was received and praised by the British Prime Minister, Secretary of State, Minister of Culture, and Minister of Finance. He was also invited by His Majesty The King to Buckingham Palace to attend the royal annual reception. 

The international education background, critical thinking, and diverse growth environment that UNNC provided me have been a solid backing throughout my journey and an invaluable asset that benefits me for life.

Reflecting on his journey, Li said:
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In September 2005, then British Prime Minister Tony Blair praised UNNC's educational model and its profound impact on Sino-British higher education cooperation on CCTV's High-end Interview programme. The sharp contrast between the little-known name and the high praise from the leaders of China and the UK piqued the interest of Li, who was still a high school student. After researching through various channels, he learned that UNNC is China’s first Sino-foreign university approved by the Ministry of Education, introducing world-class university teaching resources. When filling out his university application, UNNC undoubtedly became his first choice. 

When Li first started his undergraduate study at UNNC, his spoken English was very poor. However, UNNC's solid and progressive teaching has not only significantly improved his English but also expanded his worldview like never before. More importantly, this learning process greatly exercised his critical thinking ability, teaching him how to deeply analyse problems, think independently, and put forward unique insights, which had a profound impact on his future studies and career. “The time studying at UNNC laid the foundation for everything, and I am very grateful for everything the university has given me,” he said.

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At UNNC, Li Ma developed a strong interest in parliamentary debating. His experience as an exchange student in the UK further ignited this passion. He found that many UK universities had very strong parliamentary debate societies. This planted the seed of establishing an influential debate society at UNNC in his heart.  After returning to UNNC, he began to set up the society. With the support of many teachers and classmates, the Nottingham Debating Union China (NDUC) was established in less than half a year. 

Afterwards, to give UNNC a place on the global stage in the field of parliamentary debating, Li decided to host an international-level event at the university, which also gained support from the university. After three months of preparation, the first " China Debate Camp" opened at UNNC in 2013, attracting over 160 staff and students from 52 universities worldwide, including Harvard University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Seoul National University.

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To everyone’s surprise, Fujia Yang, founding President of UNNC, took time from his busy schedule to personally deliver a speech at the opening ceremony. 

This experience took our abilities to a higher level and also deeply made us understand President Yang’s words about ‘finding the flame in your heart,’

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The foundation laid by these valuable experiences continued to shine in subsequent years. At the globally renowned London Games Festival, Li Ma, as the chairman, innovatively held an industry summit for 100 global creative cultural and technology companies in the form of debates - "VIP100," which received enthusiastic responses and became a benchmark project in the creative cultural industry, receiving positive recognition from the Mayor of London. He candidly stated that much of it was due to the enlightenment and education he received from UNNC, which inspired his innovative thinking and practical courage.

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“Another priceless wealth that UNNC has given me is the courage to challenge authority and pursue what I love.”  In his fourth year, thanks to the independent thinking ability and international perspective cultivated at UNNC, Li stood out in the interview with the CCTV programme team and appeared on CCTV’s Let’s Talk programme. Faced with leaders from various industries, many students dared not express their views, but he bravely spoke up and dared to question, and this rare "courage" made him a regular young guest on the programme. 

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Later, Li went on to further his studies in the Department of Financial Economics at the University of Oxford. After working, out of love, he crossed from the financial industry to the cultural creative industry. He hopes to be like UNNC, a "bridge" of cultural exchange between the East and the West, promoting the cooperation and integration of creative cultures through games and films.  Looking back, Li said: “I am very fortunate to have spent the critical four years of my life at UNNC. Here, I received an education that has impacted me for life.”