China sits in on uni class

Waikato Times - - News - DONNA-LEE BID­DLE

Chi­nese stu­dents can now get a New Zealand univer­sity de­gree with­out step­ping foot in the coun­try.

Waikato Univer­sity is of­fer­ing three un­der­grad­u­ate de­grees at Zhe­jiang Univer­sity City Col­lege (ZUCC) in Hangzhou - a city pipped as the in­no­va­tion cap­i­tal of China.

It’s the first time a New Zealand univer­sity has of­fered a full de­gree in an­other coun­try.

And al­though the first se­mes­ter has just be­gun, it’s near ca­pac­ity, with 231 ‘‘high-qual­ity’’ stu­dents tak­ing 240 of the avail­able spa­ces.

Ear­lier in the year, the univer­sity an­nounced it wanted to cut jobs from the arts fac­ulty.

The pro­posal prompted stu­dents to protest the cuts, but the pro­posal’s au­thor, Pro­fes­sor Al­li­son Kirk­man, said she hoped it would strengthen the hu­man­i­ties depart­ment.

The num­ber of stu­dents en­rolling in hu­man­i­ties had been static for years and, more re­cently, had been de­clin­ing, Kirk­man said.

The pro­posal is ex­pected to be fi­nalised this month, but one de­gree that was men­tioned has al­ready been axed.

The bach­e­lor of me­dia and cre­ative tech­nolo­gies will no longer be of­fered to New Zealand stu­dents in 2018.

It is, how­ever, be­ing of­fered to stu­dents in China.

The univer­sity’s deputy vicechan­cel­lor, Pro­fes­sor Al­is­ter Jones, said there are too many op­tions for stu­dents at Waikato Univer­sity, whereas in China, the pro­gramme is quite struc­tured.

The three de­grees Chi­nese stu­dents can study are busi­ness anal­y­sis, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and me­dia tech­nolo­gies, and com­puter graphic de­sign.

Apart from the fi­nan­cial gain from in­ter­na­tional stu­dent fees, Jones said staff will ben­e­fit from teach­ing in a mul­ti­cul­tural en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘It cre­ates op­por­tu­ni­ties for our staff to work with dif­fer­ent groups and for re­search.

‘‘There are a lot of IT companies, a lot of me­dia companies, based in Hangzhou.

‘‘The qual­i­fi­ca­tions are de­signed to put grad­u­ates into jobs and there are op­por­tu­ni­ties for our New Zealand stu­dents to have in­tern­ships in Hangzhou.’’

What they’ve tried to do in China is cre­ate a New Zealand univer­sity learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘So it has so­cial learn­ing spa­ces,’’ Jones said.

‘‘It has flex­i­ble-use spa­ces.

‘‘It has a li­brary, cafe and those kinds of things which you wouldn’t nor­mally ex­pect to find in a Chi­nese univer­sity.’’

The in­sti­tute is in a sep­a­rate build­ing on the ZUCC cam­pus.

When the stu­dents move into years’ two, three and four, Jones ex­pects there will be be­tween 12 and 14 full-time staff.

Some staff will be based there per­ma­nently. And there will also be staff from the Waikato cam­pus who will fly in and teach.

‘‘We’re de­liv­er­ing the New Zealand cur­ricu­lum.

‘‘Stu­dents do a foun­da­tion year and then do three years of our de­gree in China.

‘‘It’s the same set-up that our me­dia tech­nol­ogy group would have, so they’ve repli­cated those prob­lem-based learn­ing en­vi­ron­ments into the cam­pus in China.

Jones said it was gen­er­ally dif­fi­cult to get per­mis­sion to run these types of pro­grammes in China, but the univer­sity’s 15-year re­la­tion­ship with ZUCC paved the way.

The univer­sity year at ZUCC runs from late Septem­ber to early June.

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