Univer­sity is young, but it’s grow­ing fast

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By ZHAO XINYING in Wen­zhou, Zhe­jiang zhaoxiny­ing@chi­nadaily.

Ed­i­tor’s Note: China Daily is pub­lish­ing a se­ries of re­ports on univer­si­ties jointly es­tab­lished by ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions from China and overseas. As the col­leges get busy with re­cruit­ment, our re­porters vis­ited them to talk with prin­ci­pals, teach­ers and stu­dents.

Wen­zhou-Kean Univer­sity has just grad­u­ated its first class, which made Philip Con­nelly, ex­ec­u­tive vice-chan­cel­lor, very proud.

The first co­hort did very well, Con­nelly said, and twothirds of the group of 187 chose to con­tinue their grad­u­ate stud­ies overseas, with some be­ing ac­cepted by ex­cel­lent schools, in­clud­ing Columbia Univer­sity in New York City and the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia in Philadel­phia.

“It was over­whelm­ing as Is at on the plat­form, watch­ing the stu­dents I met when they first came four years ago,” Con­nelly said, re­call­ing the first com­mence­ment held in late May.

“I was re­ally in awe of the chance the stu­dents took,” he said, re­fer­ring to their ap­pli­ca­tions to the young school with lit­tle idea of what the fu­ture would hold.

Of­fi­cially es­tab­lished in 2014 by Wen­zhou Univer­sity in Zhe­jiang prov­ince and Kean Univer­sity in the United States, the joint ven­ture is a young­ster among the seven Western-style schools cur­rently op­er­at­ing in China.

Re­cruit­ment started in 2012, be­fore the of­fi­cial launch. Con­struc­tion of the cam­pus, which is ex­pected to cover 200 hectares, is still on­go­ing.

To ac­cel­er­ate ap­proval, devel­op­ment and man­age­ment of the univer­sity, Con­nelly has paid vis­its be­tween US and China as many as 35 times since 2005. He said that many Chi­nese ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cials he talked to thought the ven­ture was an ef­fort to change the Chi­nese ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

“But ev­ery sin­gle time I had the op­por­tu­nity, I said, ‘ No — what we are try­ing to do is to in­tro­duce a very dif­fer­ent way of learn­ing into China’. ”

Hol­ger Henke, vice-chan­cel­lor in charge of aca­demic af­fairs at Wen­zhou-Kean, said the univer­sity has three com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tages. Apart from its all-English en­vi­ron­ment and an in­ter­na­tional at­mos­phere, orig­i­nal cur­ricu­lum in­tro­duced from the US, along with Amer­i­can ap­proaches to teach­ing, are of great ap­peal to ap­pli­cants.

Henke said the cur­ricu­lum, to­gether with the ped­a­gogy, are used to help stu­dents be­come crit­i­cal thinkers, life­long learn­ers and peo­ple with the abil­ity to do re­search, col­lect in­for­ma­tion and eval­u­ate the qual­ity of that in­for­ma­tion.

In the last year or two, the univer­sity has en­rolled stu­dents who scored fairly high on the gaokao, the na­tional col­lege en­trance exam, which “is an in­di­ca­tion that stu­dents and their par­ents are rec­og­niz­ing our strengths and see­ing the value in com­ing to this China-US co­op­er­a­tive in­sti­tu­tion”, Henke said.

The univer­sity cur­rently has about 1,600 stu­dents. The 2020 goal is 3,500.

“We will have a big­ger pro­por­tion of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents,” Henke said. “That will help us cre­ate a more English lan­guage feel­ing on cam­pus.”

Philip Con­nelly

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