The UNC-system Board of Governors has given the General Administration two months to create a strategic plan for the future of academic relations with China.
Eight board members went to China in March to collaborate with Chinese leaders on the possibility of creating new university partnerships.
“In China, they know two things about Carolina,” said Leslie Boney, vice president for international, community and economic engagement for the system. “They know that we are the home of Michael Jordan, and that we are probably situated somewhere in the middle of Research Park.”
Members of the board say forging stronger ties with China will help keep the U.S. competitive.
Boney said attracting a greater foreign presence to schools in the system is one of the General Administration’s main goals.
“Right now, about .08 (percent) of the system’s students are international, which is not the best showing,” Boney said, adding that an increase in international students brings new talents to the state.
“If we can find a way to hold onto them after they graduate, then we will also be able to help fulfill the needs of the state.”
The administration recently created a website called Study North Carolina, which prospective international students can access to gain more information on each school.
Boney predicts increased funding to foster interest in international collaboration.
“I’d be surprised if we didn’t increase the amount and levels of Chinese language instruction, and I’d be surprised if we didn’t find other ways to encourage students to go abroad,” Boney said.
He discussed creating a video to be shown at freshman orientation that would explain the importance of being “globally ready.”
Paul Fulton, a board member who went on the trip, stressed the importance of students getting international exposure.
“We ought to do everything in our power to get our students more exposure there to see what their competition is going to be like in the world market,” he said. “It is really eye-opening to see the intensity of the students and how eager they are to learn.”
Leroy Lail, a board member who went on the trip, emphasized the business relationship between the U.S. and China.
“We trade globally, and we recognize the fact that we’ve got to look at how that affects education and all the other types of infrastructure for our state,” Lail said.
The administration is seeking to increase research collaboration, such as the ongoing partnership between Kenan-Flagler Business School and Tsinghua University.
“For the last five years, Carolina and Tsinghua have been working with multi-national corporations to streamline refrigerating logistics so that there is less spoilage in a country that has considerable demand for food,” Boney said. “Research like that is a good example of how campuses can take some of the things that they are really good at, and apply their expertise in an international setting.”
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