An overseas study experience, at home

By Zhao Xinying in Beijing and Yu Ran in Shanghai(China Daily)
Updated: 2016-07-25 08:26:07

Anna De Vaul, a teacher from the United States, coaches a young Chinese student at Wenzhou-Kean University. [Photo by Wei Xiaohao/China Daily]

After years spent studying the higher-education market, overseas universities with joint ventures in China are now attracting a better class of student.

Schools such as New York University Shanghai have worked to build their reputations by promising good knowledge resources and management as well as international exposure and better job opportunities for graduates.

And according to Yang Guohua, a senior executive with the Sino-Foreign Cooperative Universities Union, that work is paying off. He said more high-quality young people are now flocking to such colleges, not least because of their mature recruitment policies.

"Apart from accepting students based on their performance in the gaokao, China's national college entrance examination, these universities have developed diverse ways to find students who can better meet their expectations," Yang said.

NYU Shanghai, for example, a joint venture launched in 2013 by NYU and Shanghai's East China Normal University, has a preselection process in which promising students are interviewed before the all-important exam.

The goal "is to enroll the most excellent Chinese students, those who would qualify to study at top universities such as Peking University", said Yu Lizhong, chancellor and chairman of the board at the college.

"Although a student's gaokao score does not really affect our decision about recruiting him or her, most of the students (accepted by the university) have achieved high scores, as we expected with their abilities," he added.

China has seven universities that are jointly operated by domestic and foreign institutions. The oldest, the University of Nottingham Ningbo China, was established in 2004 by Zhejiang Wanli University and Britain's University of Nottingham.

The Ministry of Education has also approved plans for two more. Both will be located in the southern province of Guangdong, with construction to start soon.

Statistics from the Sino-Foreign Cooperative Universities Union, which the joint ventures established in 2014 to advise the Chinese government on such collaboration, show the seven universities accepted more than 7,300 Chinese students in 2015.

 

The number of international students recruited has also been increasing, the union said.

NYU Shanghai has about 850 students, with roughly half from China and half from overseas. It also has 205 permanent professors on staff as well as visiting professors from other NYU campuses. Most courses are taught in English.

Jeffrey S. Lehman, vice-chancellor of NYU Shanghai, said the university fosters its students' capacity to deal with multicultural situations.

To do that, "the first lesson a freshman receives is to learn how to live and communicate with someone from another country, as it's essential to share a room with a person from a different country in the first year," he said. "A fraternity with organizers from at least two nationalities is also needed to have a better fusion of cultures."

Yang added that while internationalization is a distinct characteristic of such universities, "they also prepare students with a lot of knowledge on Chinese culture and general education, to ensure the young people gain a global vision while understanding the Chinese context".

Sheng Jianxue, secretary-general of the China Education Association for International Exchange, said the joint ventures are playing a key role in meeting the demand among Chinese for quality international educational resources and services.

With quality resources and lower tuition fees (compared with studying overseas), these universities are a good option for students who want to get an overseas education experience in China, he said.

A survey of graduates from these colleges, released during a forum in April for presidents of the Sino-foreign cooperative universities, found the employment rate was 95 percent in 2014.

Seven out of 10 graduates went on to work for multinational corporations or international organizations, while more than 90 percent said they were satisfied with their joint-venture alma maters.

Contact the writers at zhaoxinying@chinadaily.com.cn

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