Jiangnan University was among the first group of higher institutions approved by the Ministry of Education to enroll foreign students, and has long been active in international exchanges and cooperation. Since 1977, over 3000 international students from more than 90 countries have received training and education at the university. Many of them have earned reputations as experts and leaders in various scientific and technological fields.

The university has cooperated in education or scientific research with 173 universities and research organizations in over thirty countries and regions. Since 1979, thousands of teaching members have gained international experience through further studies, joint research or academic visits in different countries. Meanwhile, hundreds of foreign professors and experts have been appointed as honorary professors, adjunct professors or visiting professors. They enjoy excellent reputations in their research fields and have contributed significantly to the development of Jiangnan  University. Some of them have been honored with “Friendship Award” at national and provincial levels.

Jiangnan University offers both long-term and short-term study abroad programs for the students. In 2017, over 20% of undergraduate students had gained overseas experiences. The university has set up “Yuan Xiang Scholarships” in particular to encourage them to participate in international exchanges. For incoming exchange students, the university provides study periods of whole semesters and one-month summer schools. In addition, “A Taste of China”, which started in 2010, has become a brand short-term program, attracting students from various institutions overseas, such as the University of California, University of Guelph and Carleton University.

Jiangnan University has very strong academic links with higher institutions, research organizations and companies in different countries and hosts several joint research centers and laboratories, including the International Research Center for Photoresponsive Functional Molecular Materials, the International Joint Research Center for Probiotics and Intestinal Health, the International Cooperation Laboratory for Food Safety, and so forth. The achievements made by these centers have received worldwide recognition.

In September 2013, the first Confucius Institute devoted to Chinese food and beverage culture globally was opened at the University of California, Davis in partnership with Jiangnan  University. During the ceremony, Ms Xu Lin, director-general of Hanban, read a congratulatory letter from President Xi Jinping. The establishment of this Confucius Institute has significantly contributed to greater cultural communication and has deepened the close relationship between the two universities.

With various international conferences being held on campus each year, Jiangnan University has gradually become an important international exchange center.