China, US combine forces in education to cultivate talent
Shanghai New York University, the first institution of higher education jointly established by China and the United States, was officially founded on Monday.
The venture will be a melting pot for cultivating innovative talent and will help China tackle its brain drain, experts said.
"China's education reforms aim to better cultivate student ability to innovate and think independently, to provide comprehensive development and maximize their potential," said Yu Lizhong, president of NYU Shanghai. "That is what this college will do."
NYU Shanghai, based in the Lujiazui financial area, was established by New York University and Shanghai's East China Normal University.
The first Sino-US college operating as an independent legal entity, NYU Shanghai is expected to welcome its first 300 students next year from across the world. There will be 151 places for Chinese students.
About 40 percent of the faculty will be recruited globally, while the student-to-faculty ratio will be 8-1, half the average in Chinese universities, Yu said.
The founding of Shanghai NYU has drawn global attention and may herald an era of more international students coming to China and give a greater choice to domestic students.
According to a report in September by the Social Sciences Academy Press, about 340,000 Chinese students went abroad for further study in 2011. Among them were a growing number of students from renowned high schools who skipped China's college entrance exam, or gaokao.
Last year, 76,800 high school students began studies overseas.
"This is a considerable number, and includes many excellent students," said Chen Qun, president of East China Normal University.
"Chinese universities should take a close look at themselves. They should accelerate reforms of education models and ensure the nation keeps the country's best students," Chen said.
Joint education ventures between China and other countries are nothing new.
Many Chinese universities have gone down this route, including Xi'an Jiaotong University teaming up with Liverpool University and the University of Nottingham establishing a campus in Ningbo, Zhejiang province.
"Joint education institutions should have a clear position and innovative methods," Chen said.
NYU Shanghai will initially position itself as an arts and science research university.
Students will spend the first two years studying liberal arts, including languages, social and cultural foundations, writing, mathematics and science before they choose a major.
"Liberal-arts education will help students better understand science and society, and help establish a solid foundation for further study," said Wang Xiaojing, provost and vice-president of NYU Shanghai.
"We will not copy the US education model. NYU Shanghai will provide a new opportunity for innovative education and research," Wang said.
Upon graduation, students will receive degrees from New York University and NYU Shanghai.
Annual tuition for each student from the Chinese mainland will be about 100,000 yuan ($15,900), which will be officially announced after being approved by the Shanghai pricing authorities.
NYU Shanghai is expected to accommodate an estimated 3,000 Chinese and international students.
Wang Huiyao, director of the Center for China and Globalization, said opening extensions of overseas universities is a good way to tackle the brain drain.
"Students don't have to go abroad to get a Western education. World-class universities are on our doorstep," he said.
The introduction of foreign students will push domestic education reform, he said.
"Just like what the opening-up policy did to China's economy, we need the reform and opening-up for education," he said.
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