Shang­hai top pick for US stu­dents with eye in main­land

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By LI XUEQING in Shang­hai lix­ue­qing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Amer­i­can stu­dents are zero­ing in on Shang­hai more than any other main­land city as a place to fur­ther their ca­reers, a new re­port shows.

Shang­hai now ranks as the 20th most searched-for city on Google by those hop­ing to study over­seas, ac­cord­ing to the lead­ing search en­gine. Only three other des­ti­na­tions in Asia, in­clud­ing Hong Kong, score higher in terms of hits.

Brit­tany Haney sees the fi­nan­cial hub as the per­fect place to launch her ca­reer in for­eign af­fairs be­cause of the im­por­tance of Sino-US ties and the abun­dance of re­lated news be­ing gen­er­ated in the city.

She is tak­ing a mas­ter’s de­gree as part of Shang­hai In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies Uni­ver­sity’s China Stud­ies pro­gram. She hopes to one day work for the State Depart­ment.

Shang­hai has a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing more in­ter­na­tion­ally minded and user-friendly than other Chi­nese cities.

“A lot of Amer­i­can stu­dents say they have no idea what China is like. They want to be­come in­te­grated into Chi­nese cul­ture while still hav­ing some­thing re­lated to their own cul­ture,” said New Mex­ico’s Chris Hor­nung, a grad­u­ate stu­dent at the same uni­ver­sity as Haney.

In 2014 over 56,000 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents came to Shang­hai to study, up 13,000 from 2010. Amer­i­cans (5,600) formed the sec­ond-largest group af­ter South Kore­ans, ac­cord­ing to the city’s ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment.

While most stu­dents from the US pre­fer to take short­term pro­grams in Shang­hai to learn about China’s cul­ture and econ­omy, while also study­ing Man­darin, some have other plans.

Brax­ton Luke stud­ies in­ter­na­tional trade and Man­darin at Donghua Uni­ver­sity. The 20-year-old from Cal­i­for­nia stud­ied the lan­guage for four years at high school be­fore mov­ing to Shang­hai in 2012.

“I took Chi­nese be­cause I saw China’s grow­ing role and dom­i­nance in the global econ­omy, and how pow­er­ful of a tool the lan­guage would be to lever­age in any fu­ture op­por­tu­nity I might want to pur­sue,” he said.

Luke’s view on China is in­creas­ingly com­mon among Amer­i­can stu­dents, said Yu Hai, a pro­fes­sor of so­ci­ol­ogy at Shang­hai’s Fu­dan Uni­ver­sity. Yu teaches in­ter­na­tional stu­dents about the devel­op­ment of Shang­hai and China.

“They are highly goaldirected. One of their ma­jor goals is to learn Chi­nese,” he said. “Both Amer­i­can and Euro­pean stu­dents rec­og­nize the im­por­tance of Shang­hai and China in terms of busi­ness and the econ­omy. But they want to know more.”

Some stu­dents ex­press con­cern that they will not be able to pro­vide for them­selves as they can­not legally work here on a stu­dent visa.

But prob­lems like this are al­ready be­ing ad­dressed. For ex­am­ple, the amount granted to promis­ing for­eign stu­dents by a Chi­nese gov­ern­ment schol­ar­ship fund was re­cently raised.

The to­tal pack­age of a doc­toral stu­dent’s schol­ar­ship now stands at 99,800 yuan ($16,000) per year. Grad­u­ate stu­dents can re­ceive up to 79,200 yuan while un­der­grad­u­ates can get 66,200 yuan. They are also al­lowed to take in­tern­ships that are closely re­lated to their cour­ses.

This year 50,000 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents will re­ceive fi­nan­cial aid to study in China. Nearly 4,000 of them will land in Shang­hai.

To at­tract even greater num­bers, the Shang­hai Mu­nic­i­pal Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion is help­ing uni­ver­si­ties de­sign cour­ses and build fac­ul­ties. Since 2011 the com­mis­sion has been dis­patch­ing teach­ers to Canada and Australia each year.

“Both are im­mi­grant coun­tries with lots of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents. Our teach­ers go there not only to make aca­demic im­prove­ments, but also to learn how to teach in­ter­na­tional stu­dents,” said Yang Weiren, direc­tor of the com­mis­sion’s In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion and Ex­change Di­vi­sion.

“Study in Shang­hai” (studyshang­hai.org) is an­other of the com­mis­sion’s pro­grams. The web­site guides in­ter­na­tional stu­dents through the process of ap­ply­ing on­line and helps them find cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties to par­tic­i­pate in Shang­hai. A mo­bile app is also avail­able.

A ser­vice cen­ter for in­ter­na­tional stu­dents is also due to open this year to help them deal with is­sues re­lat­ing to res­i­dence per­mits, find places to live and learn Man­darin.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Brit­tany Haney, sec­ond from left, is

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