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Creating connections beyond borders

By Xin Wen | China Daily | Updated: 2018-01-03 07:41
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Michael Crow [Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily]

US public universities are seeking opportunities to enhance cooperation with Chinese counterparts to advance technological development and build global centers for innovative interdisciplinary research.

Arizona State University, a US public-research university established in 1885 in Tempe, near Phoenix, Arizona, started several China-related initiatives 15 years ago to provide more opportunities for students.

The school has already founded education and research programs across China. The two largest are in the Hainan provincial capital, Haikou, and Sichuan's capital, Chengdu.

It built the first campus, the HNU-ASU Joint International Tourism College, in Haikou in cooperation with Hainan University. The joint program set up three double degrees and admitted 253 students in the first semester.

The ASU-Sichuan University Center for American Culture in Chengdu focuses on US culture to advance mutual understanding and provide intellectual resources in the fields of literature, art, music and history.

"We are trying to use these joint programs to attract highly qualified Chinese students to the campus and set up platforms for joint research," says ASU's president Michael Crow.

"Our next plan is to find ways to be engaged with our digital-education activity. We are working to link up with many new universities and expanded universities to use technology and work together."

ASU has been ranked among the 30 "most innovative schools" by the US News & World Report.

ASU was initially built as a teachers college to provide education in the areas of agriculture and mechanical arts. The college performed all the functions of a university and was officially authorized as Arizona State University in 1958.

"I think the highly innovative curriculum we have conducted in our university was the most important part for us," Crow says.

Its 400 degree programs encompass such fields as engineering, art, business, science, music and philosophy.

The number of international students has also rapidly increased in recent years.

About 430 Chinese students were enrolled in the fall semester of 2002. The number is nearly 4,000 in 2017, Crow says.

A growing number of Chinese are attending universities in the United States. About 350,000 Chinese students went to study in the US in 2016, making China the biggest source country for the US' 1 million overseas students, the US Institute of International Education reports.

Chinese also accounts for the largest segment of ASU's 13,000 international students, who come from 135 countries and regions, a number that makes ASU the US public university with the most students from overseas, he says.

"The university has created huge opportunities for new learning ways and many unique pathways for Chinese students, who are involved in different programs," Crow says.

Many Chinese universities seek connections with only the most elite US universities, but those are the schools that exclude the largest number of students, Crow says.

"But we have a broader model. And what we are looking for are Chinese universities to work with that have the objective of having the most impact on the whole of society. And that's the whole external US-China education bond."

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