Join in while abroad, says US university head
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.”