China / Society

Partner colleges taking foothold

By Zhang Yue (China Daily) Updated: 2014-01-15 07:19

Duke Kunshan University in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, opened its doors for enrollment on Monday, making it the fourth joint venture between Chinese universities and foreign countries since 2004.

The university was established by Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and Wuhan University in Hubei province. It was approved in September by the Ministry of Education.

"We are aiming to recruit 80 to 100 postgraduate students in the first year and will be welcoming more students in the future," Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead said.

Duke Kunshan University said on Monday that it plans to recruit 200 students worldwide for graduate and undergraduate programs in 2014.

The first joint venture between Chinese and foreign universities to be headquartered in China is the University of Nottingham Ningbo China, established in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, in 2004. Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, established by Xi'an Jiaotong University and the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom, followed suit in 2006. New York University Shanghai opened its doors in 2012.

Enrollment at the collaborative universities has increased greatly over the past decade.

"In 2004, we opened with 259 undergraduate students, and in 2013, we had 5,649 undergraduate students," said Tess Humphrys at Nottingham China's communication and marketing department. The university also had 549 postgraduate students and 143 PhD students in 2013.

Figures from Jiaotong-Liverpool's admissions and employment department showed that the number of its students has increased from 611 in 2007 to 2,218 in 2013, while annual tuition fees have increased from 60,000 yuan ($9,924) to 66,000 yuan during that period.

"More than 80 percent of our graduates managed to continue their education in universities overseas after graduation," said Zhang Shaofeng, director of Jiaotong-Liverpool's admissions and employment department.

Despite the steady rise in enrollment, questions linger over whether employers in China will accept joint venture university graduates' credentials.

"When a graduate starts to look for a job, his alma mater significantly influences potential employers. It is slightly difficult for our graduates now because many companies do not know exactly who we are," Zhang said.

He said Jiaotong-Liverpool has a good reputation in its home location of Suzhou, Jiangsu province, and in nearby regions, but it is not nearly as recognized in China's major cities, such as Beijing and Guangzhou.

Jiaotong-Liverpool student Ma Xingjian, 20, said, "Some people wonder why our campus is in Suzhou, a city that is not related to where our stakeholders come from."

Ma said he had never heard of the university before 2012, when he took the national college entrance examination.

"But I enjoy my campus life very much," he said. "The only thing I am worried about now is that the university is still not very well-known."

Wu Shu, a sophomore at Jiaotong-Liverpool, said she has enjoyed her experience at the school.

"All courses are taught in English, and we have excellent teachers, many with degrees from overseas," she said.

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