School's in for first overseas campus
Updated: 2013-06-17 17:02
By Luo Wangshu in Chongqing, Cao Yin in Beijing and Wang Hongyi in Shanghai (China Daily)
International students at Xiamen University watch a demonstration at a pottery factory during a tour of Fujian's Dehua city, which is famous for ceramic production. The college has about 200 Malaysian students. Provided to China Daily
"This is indeed an exciting opportunity but needs much innovative effort," said Song Yonghua, executive vice-president of Zhejiang University, speaking of the establishment of the London campus.
He said Zhejiang University and Imperial College will start exploring the feasibility of establishing facilities in the new Imperial West campus for joint academic activities.
Xu Liping, deputy director of the South Asian Studies Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said, "It is innovative for Chinese universities to go abroad to show their educational ideas and culture."
Most activities so far between Chinese universities and foreign institutes are too simple and superficial, and do not provide long-term development, Xu said.
Chinese universities started to expand toward the end of the 20th century. With the fast development of colleges, many universities are seeking international cooperation, including faculty collaboration and student exchange programs.
In addition to these programs, most Chinese universities reach foreign counterparts through Confucius Institutes, offering language and cultural classes.
However, setting up campuses and granting degrees is still a new field.
"Xiamen University is attempting to break through the superficial educational or teaching communications between countries," Xu said, adding it will be good for China to improve its image in the world and enhance its relationship with neighbors.
Xiamen University's 60-hectare Malaysia campus will be built in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, at a cost of about 1.26 billion yuan ($205 million).
Construction will start in January 2014 and recruitment will begin in the autumn of 2015. The first class intake will be 500 students.
The student population will number 5,000 by 2020. The campus is ambitious to become home to 10,000 students, including 9,000 undergraduates and 1,000 graduate students.
Five majors will be open to students in the first stage at the Malaysia campus: Chinese language and culture, Chinese medicine, computer sciences, economics and electronic engineering. All lectures will be in English, except for those on Chinese language and culture and Chinese medicine.
"We have set up these schools after several in-depth surveys and consultations with experts on the needs of Malaysian society," said Zhu Chongshi, president of Xiamen University.
He said that five more schools will be added in the second phase - chemical engineering and energy, biology engineering, ocean and environmental studies, material sciences, as well as animation and mass media.
Najib Razak, the prime minister of Malaysia, invited Chinese universities to set up campuses in his country. Chinese education authorities picked Xiamen University because of its long and lasting ties with Malaysia.
Xiamen University was established in 1921 by Tan Kah Kee, a prominent businessman, community leader and philanthropist in the overseas Chinese community of Southeast Asia.
"Xiamen University is going to Malaysia, where Tan grew up, 92 years after he set it up in China," Zhu said. "It is a historical payback.
"The faculties and students are very excited, believing it will meet Xiamen University's global university development strategic plan."
The college already has about 200 Malaysian students, one of the biggest international student populations in China.
The new campus will open to the world to recruit students and build faculties. Students from China and Malaysia will account for two-thirds of the student body.
Degrees will be granted by Xiamen University in the same way as at its main campus in Fujian.
Tuition fees will be cheaper than at other international university campuses in Malaysia but more expensive than domestic private universities.
Further details including full curriculum details at Zhejiang University's overseas campus haven't been revealed yet.