Friday, 14 October 2011

The Internationalization of Chinese Higher Education Part II: The Changing Tide in a Perfect Storm.

As discussed in the last post, the internationalization of ChineseHigher Education has been characterized by east-west student migration.   Strategies to exploit the vastness ofChina’s HE market have ranged from direct student recruitment, recruitment viaagents, 2+2 programmes (many of highly questionable quality) and theestablishment of JV universities. 

While there can be littledoubt that large numbers of Chinese students will continue to seek high qualityeducation overseas, both at UG and PG level, the Ministry of Education (MoE)has, since 2006, issued several policy documents which indicate a growingdissatisfaction with status quo. 

Firstly, in 2006, the MoEissued a policy amendment stating that:

Education is a noble, public-interest undertaking whose basic goal isthe cultivation of human talent. Educational service is not trade in goods, noris it equivalent to trade in typical services. The aim and nature ofChinese-foreign cooperation in running schools must be correctly grasped. Theimplementation of random fees or high fees under the guise of Chinese-foreigncooperation in running schools is strictly prohibited; tendencies towards theindustrialization of education shall be guarded against”. 

MoEOpinion Concerning SeveralCurrent Problems in Sino-Foreign Cooperatively Managed Schools, 2006 (教育部关于当前中外合作学若干问题的意). 

This amendmentto the 2003 Regulations then continues in Article 2:

In the process of developing Chinese-foreign cooperation in runningschools, attention shall be paid to strengthening the leading position of theChinese educational institution and adamantly carrying out national educationalpolicies

MoEOpinion Concerning SeveralCurrent Problems in Sino-Foreign Cooperatively Managed Schools, 2006 (教育部关于当前中外合作学若干问题的意). 

A furthercircular issued in 2007, as well as recent comments by MoE officials, did nothide their contempt for the continuing treatment of China as a flesh market forforeign universities.  2006/7 certainlymarked the beginning of a shift in MoE thinking on Sino-Foreign HE cooperation,with the new emphasis appearing to focus more on the benefits provided toChinese HE and the achievement of national HE objectives.  

Thepublication of the 2010-2020 National Medium to Long Term Education Reform andDevelopment Plan Outline (2010-2020 国家中教育改革和发展规划纲要) constitutes a shift indirection for Chinese HE, moving away from the policy objectives of the last10-15 years; massification, marketization. The new catchwords in Chinese HE are “innovation”, “internationalization”and “quality standards”. 

“Innovation” refers to China’s deficit in intellectual property.  At the meeting of the Ministry of EducationScience and Technology Management Committee, which I was lucky enough to attendlast year, Professor Liu Renhuai gave a staggering statistic that outlines theenormity of this problem in China.  Chinain 2009 paid US$1.35 trillion per annum in oil imports to fuel its economicgrowth.  In comparison, Chinese companiespaid an estimated US$1.5 trillion in licensing fees for foreign technology.  Innovation, particularly in Science andTechnology, has become the overarching objective of education reform at alllevels in China.  Economists will notethat any moderate success in building an innovative, knowledge-based economy bythe PRC will have grave implications for foreign tech firms and for the nationaleconomies of developed nations where high-end science and technology innovationhas largely replaced downstream industries which have already been outsourcedto places like China, Vietnam, India, Brazil and other rapidly developingnations.  Even if China manage to snatch20% of this US$1.5tr over the next 10 years, this represents a US$300bn rise inthe trade deficit with advanced nations like UK, EU and US.  Western nations have, since the advent ofneoliberalism, shifted all of their economic eggs into one basket and China isnow looking at that basket and hoping to incorporate it into its own widerconfiguration of baskets.  Its somethingthat should give western politicians sleepless nights. 

“QualityStandards” aims to rapidly increase the delivery of quality education throughall tiers of China’s education system. There is a tacit recognition in the policy document that China needs towean itself off the teacher-centred model prevalent throughout the educationsystem.  More explicitly, the 2010-2020plan calls for student-centred learning to be adopted in higher education.  More robust teaching and assessment will beguaranteed to meet minimum criteria through the introduction of a quality assurancesystem.  However, this emphasis onquality standards fails to acknowledge the simple basic truth that it is verydifficult to rapidly improve education provision through qualityassurance.  Furthermore, it introduces a‘compliance culture’ into HE, where the prevailing attitude can often become“what is the least we can get away with”. Call me a bluff, old traditionalist, but I think academia is best leftin the hands of academics whose main interest is research and teaching thesubjects they are passionate about.  Onlyby creating an atmosphere conducive to scholarly excellence will you improvestandards rapidly.  Weaving aOrwellian/Weberian bureaucratic dystopia that constrains academic talent onlyserves to destroy the soul of the university, yet it is something you often seepursued with evangelist vigour by some hopelessly misled universityadministrators. 

Thisbrings us to the final catchword of China’s new HE vision:“internationalization”.  And this iswhere things begin to get interesting.  Priorto the 2010-2020 plan, internationalization has been carried out almostmindlessly in China.  In terms ofresearch, there have been no shortage of eager senior administrators from thewest, keen to sign on the dotted line, a phenomenon made all the more common byChina’s famous ability to massage the egos of rather vain westerners.  Similarly, Chinese academics score majorpoints for bringing an international tie-up. However, it is difficult to think of any really successful example of a research collaboration that hasachieved anything more impressive than its own inauguration ceremony and theaccompanying fanfare of flowers, red carpets, impromptu speeches, headlines andchauffeur-driven cars, kept on stand-by to whisk the visiting signatories backto the sanctity of their 5 star hotel as quickly as is humanly possible.   Collaborative teaching and joint programmesare also usually launched in this rather ostentatious manner before they begintheir decline, a decline often beginning at the exact moment the ViceChancellor or President (or a high-ranking representative) straps him/herselfinto a business class seat on the runway at Pudong or BeijingInternational.  OK.  Perhaps its easy to be cynical and dismissiveof many internationalization projects in China; many have been successful, butthey remain firmly in the minority. 

TheChanging Tide

Thedifference now is that China, the MoE and China’s universities are gettingwise.  They no longer want headlines, butrather programmes and partnerships that deliver the goals of the HE policiesnow being passed down through the administrative framework: State Council toMoE to the Party Secretaries and Senior Administrators in universities.  While there is acceptance that Chinesestudents will continue to seek education overseas, the MoE and Chineseuniversities are realizing that international students are needed to acceleratethe adoption of student-centred learning within their own universities.  I’ve come across several estimates of figuresfor international students that the MoE wants by 2020.  A reasonable estimate appears to be that theywant 500,000 foreign students studying in China by 2020, 150,000 of whom shouldbe enrolled on full-time Chinese university degree programmes (UG, PG andDoctoral).  This would deliver, withinten years, a total rebalancing of China’s brain-drain (although many overseaseducated Chinese are already returning to China now), and would transform Chinainto a net-importer of students.  While alarge amount of these students would come from advanced nations such as the US,Canada, UK, EU, Australia and New Zealand, many will come from countries whichtraditionally send students to those countries (India, Malaysia, Nigeria,Ghana, South Korea, Taiwan).  In short,China is transforming from a market for western HE sectors into acompetitor.  Western universities shouldbe concerned not about losing Chinese students to a rapidly improving ChineseHE industry, but to losing students from other markets who decide to undertakedegrees delivered through EMI in China’s top universities.  Really, although to achieve their goal of 150,000students on full time programmes might seem impossible, breaking thatfigure down shows that even if this effort is focused on the elite Project 985 universities,it is not actually that unfathomable.  I,for one, would never bet against China. 

Thereare 39 Project 985 Universities.  Theywould have to have 3846 foreign students each in order to hit the magic 150,000full time foreign students.  Lets say,for argument's sake 50 of those will be PhD’s, with a PhD lasting 4 years.  Masters generally last 2-3 years in China,but lets say 2 years.  UG programmes areall 4yrs.  Project 985 universities wouldhave to hit the following intake limits by 2015/16 academic year in order toensure the target is reached. 

UGInt’l Intake 2015/16         -            750 (x4yrs = 3000)

PhDInt’l Intake 2015/16        -            50 (x4yrs = 200)

MastersIntake 2018/19          -            325 (x2yrs = 650)

TOTALIntake                       -            1100

Thiswould give a total number of students at 3850 in the 2019/20 academic year(assuming no drop-outs), which when multiplied by the 39 Project 985 universities, gives a figure of 150,150.  OK, it’s theback-of-an-envelope calculation, but it illustrates that 150,000 students onfull time UG study may not be as laughable as it first appears.  Especially if you recognize that universitiesoutside the Project 985 group will almost certainly get in on the act, theactual number of universities recruiting significant numbers of foreignstudents will likely be around the 100 mark. 

Ofcourse, there are myriad obstacles, some seemingly insurmountable, which makethis prospect appear doubtful.  Firstly,the need to deliver UG and PG programmes largely in English and in a manneracceptable to western students (English as the Medium of Instruction or ‘EMI’)must be established on a previously unseen scale across China’s eliteuniversities (those 39 members of Project 985 and the 100+ members of Project211).  Secondly, the level of trustplaced in Chinese HE by prospective foreign students must be addressed.  This is easier said than done.  It is not merely a case of sendingInternational Officers to recruit international students - internationalrecruitment activities and the international recruitment marketplace are stilltotally focused on east-to-west student migration – it is a case of marketcreation.  Chinese universities haveseveral options at their disposal for this, namely: Exchange Programmes, StudyAbroad Programmes and World Rankings.  AsChinese elite universities rise in the rankings, so will the esteem of Chinese HEin general, and doubts as to the quality of Chinese HE will dissipate.  Through exchange and study abroadrelationships, Chinese universities can increase their visibility in thecurrent market.  Exchange and StudyAbroad carry less risk for the students, as they remain registered at theirhome institution, but it remains a powerful tool for Chinese universities toconstruct the foundations of the new market to lure foreigners to Chineseuniversities on a full time basis.   Itsall about building trust.  Finally, thereis the issue of talent.  Chineseuniversities are filled with lots of very hard-working, talented and passionateacademics, but they are also poorly remunerated, poorly treated and arepressured to direct their attentions to research outputs, with volume, notquality, being the key performance indicator. This certainly has to change and it is not difficult to foresee asituation whereby foreign student fees are used to raise conditions for Chineseacademics and administrators.  Regardlessof whether China is successful in this regard, this is something that musthappen if China wants a world-class HE sector. Its not rocket science. 

ThePerfect Storm

Thereare several other factors which are going to influence this process.  If the efforts of the Chinese noted above canbe described as “pull factors”, the “push” factors in the west are alsoconverging to direct more and more students to undertake study in China. 

TheUS State Department launched the rather clumsily titled “100k Strong” initiativein early 2010.  The stated objective ofthis programme is to have 100k US students undertake part of their UG study inChina by 2015 (yes, that does say 2015, its not a typo)  This is already having a clear impact inChina.  Although some universities, suchas NYU and UC Denver, have long established Study Abroad Centers in China, manyare moving now, with the likes of Stanford establishing a Study Abroad Centerat Peking University.  The top USuniversities are likely to enter into their own collaborations, but privateeducation providers such as INTO and a new US company called gMEO are aiming tobridge the gap between US and Chinese institutions and facilitate large scalenumbers of US students studying in China on credit-bearing UG courses.  Of course, organizations such a IIE, CIEE andAPI will continue to channel US students to well-estalbished language andcultural programmes at universities like Fudan, Peking, Tsinghua, BLCU,Shanghai Jiaotong and others. 

Lookingto Europe and we have a similar situation, although the EU is taking a lessaggressive approach.  The LeuvenInitiative is focused on promoting international student mobility for studentsfrom EU member states.  Its over-archingaim is to increase the percentage of students taking part of or all of their UGstudy outside their home country from the current 1% to 20% by 2020.  Again, this represents a major opportunity inthe area of Exchange Programmes (Study Abroad being a uniquely US phenomenon).  The issue here is that of English languagecapability as Chinese students will lack the requisite English language skills(or other European language skills) to undertake UG study in Europe, even inthe event Chinese universities have sufficient courses taught in English.  A possible fix, which no one appears to havethought of thus far, is a UG for PG exchange. i.e. sending European UG students to a Chinese university who then sendgraduate students to the European university (with the Chinese graduate simplypaying the Chinese university an agreed fee rather than paying the European universitythe graduate fees).  Whether it’s aworkable solution from a financial and administrative point of view is anotherquestion entirely, although internationalization of the student body is anobvious benefit to both institutions and should be judged on that basis ratherthan a financial basis. 

Toconclude, I think it would be fair to say that there is a possible convergenceof policy interventions at play which could work to China’s favour.  Policy aside, China’s place in the worldcontinues to become more central, both economically and politically, and itwould be reasonable to assume that many young people will have their headsturned east as financial turmoil in the west continues.  Talent usually goes where opportunitiesabound and China, as well as India, Brazil and several other non-traditionallocations, may offer more than the stagnating economies of the global North.  It will certainly be interesting to watch itall unfold and, hopefully, be a part of a very exciting juncture in thedevelopment of international HE. 


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Internationalization of China’s Higher Education Sector Part 1: East-to-West Student Migration

Since the turn of the 21st century, universities in English speaking countries have done very well out of China’s continuing emergence as a major global economy. 

The US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have attracted Chinese students in their droves; students keen to develop the skills necessary to compete in the global job market.  In China, such is the extent of competition in the job market that the minimum necessary requirement for a half-decent job is a Masters degree. 

The strategies employed by universities to cash in on China’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for quality higher education have been diverse.  While almost all universities recruit students directly, networks of agents are often used to source Chinese students.  In many cases, these agents charge both the overseas university and the student for securing a place.  It is not unheard of, if the student secures a scholarship, for the Chinese agent to demand a share of that scholarship.   Universities, depending on the volume of students recruited, typically pay 10%-15% finders fee to the agent from the first year’s tuition fees. 

While such strategies are practically universal, many universities have decided to adopt evermore complex recruitment strategies.  Pathways centres partnerships have proved very successful in attracting international students.  Companies such as Kaplan, INTO and Study Group have differing approaches to the establishment of Pathways Centres at UK universities.  However, some view these “International Foundation Years” as a back door into quality HE institutions, with entrance criteria significantly lower than that which is required for direct entry to the university itself.  Nevertheless, the argument for pathways centres is that they help educate the foundation level students to the required standards to undertake full-time undergraduate study at leading universities.  So successful are they at recruiting students and channeling them to universities that many top UK universities have established partnerships for Pathways Centres, including Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle, Exeter, Glasgow, Nottingham Trent, Brighton, Bournemouth, Stirling, Lancaster, Lincoln, Surrey, Sussex, Newport (Uni of Wales), Leicester, Keele, Kingston, Heriot-Watt,  East Anglia, Manchester and Glasgow Caledonian.  These study centres, which are open only to international students – not UK students - add a foundation year to a 3yr UK degree programme.  Progression to the 3yr degree programme is not guaranteed, but it does provide a way for students with insufficient qualifications to gain access to UK HE, in many cases to leading universities. 

Meanwhile joint-teaching programmes, typically known as 2+2 programmes, at the UG level can be a good way for western universities to combat drop-out rates.    This is where a student enters a Chinese university for the first 2 years of their UG education, and then transfers for the final 2 years to an overseas university.  These types of arrangements are widespread in China, but are viewed in a poor light by the Ministry of Education (MoE), especially in instances where the sole focus is on the export of Chinese students, rather than the development of robust teaching and administrative procedures while the students are in the first 2 years of the programme and studying with the Chinese partner.  In 2007, the MoE issued a circular detailing its lack of faith in such programmes and directly criticizing 2+2 programmes where the foreign partner focused wholly on marketing and export of Chinese students while neglecting teaching and administrative standards in the portion of the degree programme delivered in China.  Neverthless, such programmes continue to be established in China, with the MoE publishing a list of over 400 such approved Sino-Foreign joint programmes in July 2010.   More recently, Zhang Xiuqin of the MoE announced a new crackdown on programmes with scathing remarks about “some foreign educational institutes (which) take advantage of the programs in order to make more money.”  Mrs Zhang made the comments while introducing a new MoE policy aimed at establishing tighter quality control of joint-programmes, requiring Chinese and foreign universities to go through a more rigorous approval process.  In addition to several documents (laws, regulations and circulars) issued by the MoE since 2007, the message is clear: any foreign university which does not provide clear benefits to Chinese higher education, or which exports vast amounts of money in the form of transferred students’ tuition fees, will come under close scrutiny.

A recent development is the establishment of training colleges within leading Chinese universities which offer 1+3 and 2+2 programmes.  These training colleges have agreements with universities in the west to send students overseas after completing a Foundation Year, or the first two years of a 4yr undergraduate programme, usually comprised of a 1yr foundation with a focus on English for Academic Purposes, and a 2nd year covering a common 1st year of an undergraduate programme.  However, the implication is that such students are enrolled at the Chinese university, when in fact they are not.  Mostly, they are students who have failed to score sufficiently in the ultra-competitive Gaokao exam (University Entrance Exam) to secure a place at a leading Chinese university, but who have sufficient wealth to pay higher fees.  The training college then enrolls the student for 1 or 2 years, at fees 10 times higher than the standard Chinese university fee, before sending them overseas for the remaining 2-3 years of the degree programme.  Such training centres provide another “pathway” into HE at leading universities in the west, while effectively circumventing entrance requirements.  Students at these training centres pay much higher fees than those enrolled at the Chinese university and are never actually officially enrolled with the Chinese partner university (i.e. not recognized by the MoE as undergraduate students) but with a wholly-owned subsidiary training company owned by the university.  Effectively, this allows for the complete circumvention of entry standards and even IELTS or similar English language requirements.  It is unclear the extent to which foreign (US, UK, Canadian etc) universities are complicit in this process, or whether they genuinely believe they are getting Chinese students from University X, rather than sub-standard students enrolled in a training company owned by University X.  To give an example, there is one leading UK University which admits Chinese students with scores of 450 out of 750 in the Gaokao.  Their Chinese partner would never accept a student with scores this low into their own UG programmes, but they are happy to charge these students 9 times the standard Chinese university fee to be registered at their “International College” where students are registered on 2+2 programme with the world-class UK partner.  Worse still, in the event the student has a grade lower than 450, a qualifying interview can be given to the student.  This practice is very widespread and becoming even more prevalent. To give an idea, whereas estalbished JV universities (see below) recruit exclusively Tier 1 Gaokao students from across China, setting entrance criteria as low as 450 (and in some cases lower) means students will be taken from Tier 3 and Tier 4, depending on which province they come from.  

The boldest and most robust examples of internationalization are to be found in the few Sino-Foreign Joint Venture universities, notably Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University (XJTLU) and the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC).  These universities recruit only through the Gaokao exam, and take only those students with Tier 1 Gaokao scores.  Students at these two universities have the option of undertaking either a 2+2 programme, or taking the whole of their 4yr degree in China.  It is often thought that both XJTLU and UNNC are “branch campuses” of the UK universities, but this is absolutely not the case.  Both are established under the 2003 Law and are legally independent and come under the direct jurisdiction of the MoE.  They are listed as official universities in China and, as such, can recruit directly from the Gaokao in the same manner that all other Chinese universities do.  Having said that, the Gaokao recruitment process is not an open market, with provinces having to negotiate with other provinces for quotas.  It is a process which is characterized by strategic risk, where parents and students must consider applications based not only on the scores they have achieved at Gaokao, but also try to understand how other students will apply.  For example, if a student from Shandong Province has a Tier 1 Gaokao score, it may not be sufficient to enter their chosen university.  If that university has only 100 places for Shandong students, they must take the first 100 students with scores in excess of the Tier 1 benchmark.  So if 100 students with a score of 600+ apply, then the 101st student with 599 will be rejected, even if the Tier 1 benchmark is set at 570.

Almost without exception, western universities are looking to China to continue to provide a constant stream of high-fee paying students.  In my opinion, the attitude of western universities, certainly those from Anglophone countries, is, at times, indefensible.  It is highly questionable whether or not those universities developing a presence in China want to contribute anything at all to the development of Chinese higher education.   All efforts appear to be simply aimed at transferring large numbers of students back to the UK, US or another country to help replenish the coffers.  Allegedly collaborative HE programmes are often characterized by arrogant western institutions trying to transplant their home university’s bureaucratic systems into their Chinese partner institution, showing scant regard for the cultural, social, legal and administrative traditions of their Chinese partner and China.  This is especially problematic when those bureaucratic procedures and/or the quality standards of the programme are not delivered to the required standards.  Such attitudes, whether parochial or ethnocentric, often leave the western side of the “partnership” feeling isolated and at war with their Chinese partners.  For those of us who’ve been in China a while, it is a constant surprise to watch the sometimes adversarial approach of newcomers and, especially, those ensconced back in Head Office.  The simple fact is that the onus really is on those working in China to adapt better to the distinctly different environment and to respect China’s quite understandable wish that they deliver quality education, rather than treat the country as a gravy train.  Anyone with even the vaguest understanding of modern China and its recent past will understand why this is the case.  Unfortunately it appears many do not. 

At the bottom end of the scale, poorly conceived 2+2 programmes will continue to come under scrutiny from the MoE and even provincial education bureaus.  However, those JV universities also need to protect themselves from accusations that they are little more than large scale 2+2 programmes.  There are constant rumours of more JV universities being established, with Lancaster in talks with Guangdong University of Foreign Studies (Guangwai); Duke University collaborating with Wuhan University in the city of Kunshan, Jiangsu province , and New York University establishing a JV campus in the Lujiazui Financial District of Pudong, Shanghai with East China Normal University (ECNU) as its Chinese JV partner.   The latter two, Duke Kunshan University and Shanghai New York University, launched with much fanfare last year, yet both have recently announced they will open doors to students in 2013, rather than 2011 as first stated.  Both wanted to launch with Masters programmes, which, as anyone who knows Chinese HE and specifically the establishment process for JV’s, must be approved by the State Council (China’s cabinet).  Thus far, neither have received approval from the MoE to operate a JV campus, although both have buildings which have received investment.    With regards to Lancaster, no plans or proposals have yet emerged.  They perhaps think they can simply move their long-established 2+2 programme with Guangwai to a new campus, but the establishment of a new JV is a far more complicated prospect.  Certainly, they will be forced to raise their entry standards as a consequence of establishing a JV.   In the event they are not establishing a JV, but rather a College of Guangwai, they will be forced to compete on the open market for students, accepting those students who have failed to score sufficiently in the Gaokao to secure a place at a Chinese university.  

The period from 2000 to 2011 has all been about recruitment of Chinese students to foreign universities, with knowledge transfer also being a key factor in the MoE allowing the establishment of JV universities.  While it is beyond doubt that Chinese students will continue to pursue overseas education, the policy of the Chinese government and the MoE clearly oppose the continued treatment of China as a cash cow.  Indeed, collaborative programmes which provide no benefit to the host (Chinese) institution are unlikely to get off the ground.  For those familiar with Chinese legal documents, being very vague so as to allow, not for interpretation in a variety of different ways, but for enforcement by the authorities as they see fit, the 2006 amendment to the Chinese 2003 Law on establishment of cooperative schools should be seen as a watershed moment where Chinese HE moves to exert greater control of quality in cooperative education programmes.  In addition the 2010-2020 Medium to Long-Term Education Plan explicitly states the importance of internationalization of Chinese universities, which is becoming manifest in Chinese HE discourse as a need to rebalance the high export of students through fostering new strategies to import large numbers of foreign students into China’s higher education system.   

Next Week: 
Part II:  The Changing Tide in the Internationalization of Chinese Higher Education


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Nottingham Ningbo announce RMB170 investment for Research and Training Centre

The University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) this week announced a major initiative to establish a new "International Doctoral Innovation Center" (国际博士创新中心).

The total investment, put forward by UNNC, University of Nottingham UK, Ningbo Education Bureau and Ningbo Science and Technology Bureau, comes to a total investment of RMB1.7 million (£17m approximately).

The IDIC will be located in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, where Nottingham established their Sino-Foreign Joint Venture Campus, in partnership with Wanli Education Group, in 2004.

A press release, issued jointly by UNNC and the Ningbo Science and Technology Bureau, states that RMB120 million in research grants has been provided by the Chinese authorities, with UNNC and the University of Nottingham (UK) committing an investment of "at least £60m" over the next 6 years.

Given the parlous state of UK HE funding, it will be interesting to observe reactions to this level of investment, if any cash is actually being invested at all. Given that the Nottingham contingent has stated clearly that 100 Full PhD Scholarship will be provided, this would account for approximately £6m, assuming that Full scholarships are comprised of £10k Nottingham PhD (international) tuition fees per annum and a £10k living allowance per annum for the full 3 years of the PhD.

While this is merely speculation, such an arrangement and commitment would not only provide UNNC with a small army of inexpensive graduate teaching assistants (GTA's), but would also prepare a ready made alumni network of academics in China.

The IDIC will be active in several areas highlighted as central to China's development plans, with a focus on renewable technologies and reducing carbon emissions and, in addition, will help Ningbo develop its already burgeoning automotive sector, with a focus on reducing carbon emissions. To those of us watching Chinese Higher Education, the establishment of such a centre will come as little surprise, especially considering the stated objective in the recent CPPCC, NPC and 2010-2020 Education Plan of China's desire to create a high-tech, creative and innovative scientific and technological sector to rival the those in the advanced nations.

However, the further commitment of Nottingham with such an apparently large investment, at a time when UK higher education is facing enormous cut-backs in both teaching and research funds, as well as a massive hike in student fees, is bound to attract some comments.

If, indeed, investment is in the form of PhD scholarships, then it will be interesting to see whether the approximate £3m in tuition fees is ever remitted to University of Nottingham (UK) by UNNC, or whether University of Nottingham (UK) are simply waiving the fee and calling it an "investment" of £3m. The latter scenario would appear to be a poor deal for Nottingham's UK campus, whereas the former would require UNNC to pay the £3m in fees and a further £3m in living stipends to reach the stated total investment of £6m.


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Sunday, 18 September 2011

DUKE KUNSHAN UNIVERSITY: New Appointments to Duke's China Initiative

Duke University announced three new appointments for its Duke-Kunshan Initiative today.

Professor William C. Kirby will move from Harvard Business School, where he held the post of T.M Chang Professor of China Studies. Professor Kirby has also held several high ranking administrative posts at Harvard, including Director of the Asia Centre and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Professor Kirby's role at DKU

Professor Shi Mingzheng joins Duke-Kunshan from New York University's long-established NYU in Shanghai, a centre for NYU student to pursue Study Abroad and based at East China Normal University. Professor Shi holds a PhD in Chinese Urban History from Columbia University and, prior to taking up the role of NYU Shanghai Director in 2006, developed and ran a teach-in-China program for the Council for International Educational Exchange.

Nora Bynum has been appointed Managing Director of DKU (Duke Kunshan University) and China Initiatives. Dr Bynum, who holds a PhD in Anthropology from Yale and also has, in addition to her extensive administrative experience at Duke, been an Adjunct Professor in Duke's Nicholas School of Environment since 1995.

So. It would appear that Duke are bringing in some heavy hitters. Those close to the development of JV universities in China will know that Duke and NYU are currently fighting it out to be the first US university to establish a Sino-US JV university in China.

Sure to raise an eyebrow or two is Professor Shi Mingzheng's appointment, given the central role he has played in NYU's presence in Shanghai over the last 5 years. Perhaps a coup for Duke, perhaps a loss for NYU.

For those that don't know, Duke are proposing to establish DKU in the city of Kunshan, a county level city in Suzhou. Kunshan itself sits right inbetween Shanghai and Suzhou, on the border between Jiangsu Province and the Shanghai Municipality. While information on the actual DKU plans have yet to surface, rumour has it that there has been strong opposition to the establishment of DKU from faculty at the main Durham campus. Initially, Shanghai Jiaotong University were cited as Duke's JV partner, but since then Wuhan University appear to be the Chinese partner.

NYU have also agreed to establish operations in Shanghai, with East China Normal University (ECNU) as the Chinese JV partner. As previously mentioned, Professor Shi Mingzheng, who had developed and run the NYU Shanghai Centre at ECNU since 2006, has now joined Duke's DKU team, according to Duke's website. With NYU and DUKE both vying to establish JV campuses, and with Professor Shi's extensive experience not only in Shanghai, but also with NYU and ECNU, this is certainly one thats got me scratching my head.

Currently, no US universities have established a joint venture university in China. Three currently exist:

Xi'an Jiaotong Liverpool University (Suzhou, Jiangsu).
Established between Xi'an Jiaotong University, one of the "Chinese Ivy League", or C9 Group of Universities. The UK partner is the University of Liverpool. Established in 2005.

University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China (Ningbo, Zhejiang).
A JV between the University of Nottingham (UK) and Wanli Education Group (Ningbo), and approved in 2004.

United International College (Zhuhai, Guangdong)
A JV with Beijing Normal University and Hong Kong Baptist University.

All of these joint venture universities are legally independent entities under Chinese law and under the direct jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education of the PRC. They are not, as is sometimes thought, branch campuses. Such a status brings many challenges to the senior administrators of these universities, especially those seconded staff that do not understand the Chinese Higher Education system.

It was expected that both Shanghai New York University and DKU would open their doors to incoming MBA students in 2011. This does not appear to have been the case. Both proposed universities also are rumoured to have proposed commencing the universities with Masters degrees in 2012, followed by undergraduate enrolment in 2013. Given that Masters degree programmes are approved at the State Council level in China, it appears unlikely that this will be sanctioned until there is evidence that quality programmes can be delivered at undergraduate level.

Another issue is that of tuition fees. Both NYU and Duke have published materials which strongly imply a fee equivalent to that which is charged in US. From memory (though I could be wrong) this was US$42k per annum in both cases. Duke's own commissioned report on the feasibility of such tuition fees clearly stated that US$15k per annum is the highest possible tuition fee, and that would be for In-China MBA programmes from top US Business Schools.

Given that fees at the existing Sino-Foreign JV universities are in the region of US$9k-10k per annum, with fees for most Chiense universities at US$900-$1000 per annum, such fees look exorbitant and unrealistic. It is also questionable whether the MoE or local Education Bureaus would sanction such fees, but then it is never wise to second-guess in China.

It will certainly be interesting to see how NYU and Duke develop their operations in China. Certainly, the appointment by Duke of Professor Shi Mingzheng could be a stroke of genius. Given the 2010-2020 Medium - Long Term Education Plan and its stated objective of internationalizing Chinese HE, with a (rumoured) target of 150,000 foreign nationals studying in China by 2020, Professor Shi's previous 12 years with CIEE and NYU could well be invaluable, especially if Duke take the strategic choice to understand what the MoE and PRC Government wants from Sino-Foreign JV universities. Hint: Its not to export Chinese students en masse through 2+2 programmes.

I warmly wish the new appointees the best of luck.

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