Published: Jun 14, 2010 2:00:00 PM
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Source: AL.com (The Birmingham News)
Auburn University is planning to build a campus in China, a move that it says would make it the first U.S. college with a major physical presence in that country.
The Chinese campus, a partnership with Shanghai University, would be west of Shanghai in Danyang and would serve about 4,000 Chinese and American students, university officials said. The proposal still must be approved by the Chinese government and the Auburn board of trustees, but preliminary planning is under way and Chinese officials met with Auburn officials and Gov. Bob Riley to discuss the plans earlier this month.
The campus initially would offer engineering degrees from both universities, said Larry Benefield, dean of the college of engineering at Auburn. Other degrees could be offered at a later date.
Auburn officials expect to submit a formal request to the Chinese government by September, and then will develop a detailed plan.
Many U.S. universities offer classes in China, though they typically use rented space or have a smaller physical presence, not a traditional college campus.
"We would be the first fully operational (U.S.) campus in China," Benefield said.
Ralph Hing-Chung Zee, associate dean for research in Auburn's engineering school, said Danyang -- a collection of towns and townships with a total population of about 900,000 -- has a high-tech industrial base that's a natural for an engineering school.
The location being considered for the campus is like the city of Auburn, but without Auburn University, Zee said.
"They don't have a major university within about 50 miles," he said.
The cost of building the campus would be underwritten by the government of the city of Danyang, which is similar in scope to a large county government in the United States.
Many details remain to be worked out, Benefield said, and Auburn will have to work closely with accrediting agencies when developing its plan. But initial plans call for a curriculum identical to what's offered in the engineering school on the main campus at Auburn.
Students could choose between an Auburn track, for which classes would be taught in English, and a Shanghai University track, for which classes would be taught in Chinese. Those in the Auburn track would earn a degree from Auburn, and those in the Shanghai University track would earn a degree from that institution.
There also likely would be some trading of students, as U.S. students spend a year on the China campus and Chinese students spend a year studying on the main campus in Alabama, Benefield said.
"Maybe a student in chemical engineering would like to go to that campus and spend their entire junior year there," he said. "They could do that and not miss a beat."
Auburn engineering professor C.T. Liu, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, also is working on the project.
To read the article from The Birmingham News, click here.