Join in while abroad, says US uni­ver­sity head

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHAO XINYING zhaoxiny­ing@ chi­nadaily.

Chi­nese stu­dents at US col­leges should take ad­van­tage of ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to en­gage with peo­ple from other na­tions, a vis­it­ing uni­ver­sity head has ad­vised.

Michael Mc R o b b i e , pres­i­dent of In­di­ana Uni­ver­sity, led a del­e­ga­tion to Beijing ear­lier this month to ex­pand re­la­tions with higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions and meet with alumni.

“It’s per­fectly nat­u­ral for for­eign stu­dents to con­gre­gate among them­selves be­cause it’s more com­fort­able and eas­ier and less chal­leng­ing,” he said.

“But that means you don’t nec­es­sar­ily get full ex­po­sure to every­thing that a new coun­try has to of­fer.”

In­di­ana Uni­ver­sity has more than 9,000 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, about 40 per­cent of whom come from China.

McRob­bie, a na­tive of Aus­tralia, said he ben­e­fited a lot from in­ter­ac­tion with class­mates and peers from di­verse back­grounds dur­ing his own time in over­seas ed­u­ca­tion. “One of the best ways of build­ing in­ter­na­tional un­der­stand­ing is through in­ter­na­tional en­gage­ment,” he said.

In­di­ana Uni­ver­sity has long been pop­u­lar among Chi­nese stu­dents, mostly at post­grad­u­ate level, al­though in re­cent years more have en­rolled as un­der­grad­u­ates, McRob­bie said.

It has more than 5,800 alumni af­fil­i­ated with China.

McRob­bie said In­di­ana Uni­ver­sity has signed co­op­er­a­tive agree­ments with some lead­ing in­sti­tu­tions in China, such as Ts­inghua Uni­ver­sity and Beijing Nor­mal Uni­ver­sity.

He said that it is work­ing to en­cour­age more stu­dents to study abroad and the num­ber of In­di­ana Uni­ver­sity stu­dents in China for ex­change or short-term pro­grams has in­creased greatly since he be­came pres­i­dent.

“I’d like to see that num­ber con­tinue to in­crease,” he said, adding that they would try to achieve the goal by de­vel­op­ing re­la­tion­ships with more Chi­nese uni­ver­si­ties.

Hav­ing made eight of­fi­cial trips to China since be­com­ing the uni­ver­sity’s pres­i­dent in 2007, McRob­bie said he was par­tic­u­larly im­pressed when he at­tended Ts­inghua Uni­ver­sity’s centennial cel­e­bra­tions in 2011, which he de­scribed as “pretty re­mark­able”.

“It stuck in my mind be­cause we’ ll have a bi­cen­te­nary in 2020. So it was a good way of see­ing how an­other great uni­ver­sity used all its as­sets to carry out a re­ally dis­tinc­tive cel­e­bra­tion.”

Michael McRob­bie

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