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US universities set up shop in China

Updated: 2014-01-03 14:49
By China Daily ( China Daily USA)

More and more US universities are likely to set up offices in China in order to strengthen their local presence, according to an expert.

"The trend (of American universities establishing offices in China) will strengthen as the demand among Chinese students to study in the US is huge," said Nini Suet, CEO of Shang Learning, an education consultancy that specializes in preparing Chinese students for studies abroad.

Princeton University will soon open its first office in China at Tsinghua University, according to Suet, who is also chairman of an alumni committee where she's responsible for interviewing potential students for the university.

Three weeks ago the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) launched its first China office at the Shanghai Center.

"It is our first overseas office," Sarah Zehr, UIUC's director of operations for the Office of Public Engagement, told China Daily. "We have so many Chinese students and alumni, so I think China will be a great first stop to strengthen our international presence."

Phyllis Wise, chancellor of UIUC, flew to Shanghai to attend the opening ceremony. She wrote in her blog that the office marked another milestone for the university.

"China is a place where we have great opportunities to advance the educational, research and economic development missions of the campus," Wise wrote. "We count an increasing number of Chinese students and alumni as members of the Illinois family. And they are among our strongest and most steadfast advocates anywhere in the world."

Among other functions, the office will facilitate the admission process.

"China is a big source of students for us and it's important to be fully engaged with them. This office will help us better serve our stakeholders in China," Pradeep Khanna, associate chancellor for corporate and international relations at UIUC, said in an interview with the school's news bureau.

UIUC statistics show that out of the 9,407 international students enrolled in the fall 2013 semester, 48 percent were Chinese.

As the demand among Chinese students to study abroad has been growing significantly, overseas education agencies have mushroomed to help students apply to US schools. But along with this development have also come frauds, making China offices directly representing the US schools ever more necessary, according to Suet.

"I hope more US universities can send direct representatives or alumni officers to China to offer authentic and first-hand information for Chinese students," said Suet. "There are simply too many scams on the market."

The office will focus on building and fostering relationships with Chinese companies and academic institutions, as well as providing students and faculty with academic exchange and career opportunities in China.

For Princeton University, the main purpose of its first administrative center in China will also be supporting faculty, students and staff studying and conducting research in China.

"While Princeton faculty, undergraduate and graduate students will continue to study in China through existing academic programs, we hope the center will be a valuable resource and connection to Princeton while they are abroad," Diana Davies, Princeton's vice-provost for international initiatives, said in the school news.

Princeton has no plans to offer admission support through the office.

"Princeton is very cautious about it because it is, after all, about academics and not PR," said Suet, who is also chairman of graduate alumni affairs at Princeton Alumni Association of Beijing, which has pledged to offer full support to help with admissions in China.

In the past few years several US universities have established a physical presence in China. The list includes the State University of New York (SUNY), the University of Idaho, Kansas State University, Michigan State University and the University of Minnesota. Most of these universities and others have a separate website in Chinese, some with a dot-cn domain.

New York University (NYU) took a physical presence one step further by establishing a degree-granting campus in Shanghai in 2012. The school, named "NYU Shanghai", is the first American university that has received independent registration status from China's Ministry of Education.

The inaugural class of 2017 began last September at East China Normal University, as the official campus is still under construction. Out of the 294 students, 51 percent are Chinese locals.

Zhang Yang contributed to this report and can be reached at



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