Starting in the fall of 2018, UNC-Wilmington expects around 100 students from Chongqing University of Arts and Sciences to participate in its new dual degree program.
The partnership between the two schools was approved by the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China and announced on March 21.
According to a press release from the school, UNC-W was one of only 34 schools selected by the ministry from a pool of more than 500 proposals to Chinese partner institutions. It was one of eight U.S. schools accepted. Other schools include Tulane University, Michigan Technological University and University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
The program’s development began in fall 2016, according to an email from Michael Wilhelm, associate vice chancellor of international programs at UNC-W.
Wilhelm said in the email that UNC-W was initially interested in finding a partner in a part of China where they did not already have a presence.
"We have a 'faculty champion' in the form of Dr. Xin Lu of the UNC-W math department who is from Chongqing,” Wilhelm wrote.
Located in the major Southwestern city of Chongquing, CUAS has over 20,000 undergraduate students enrolled, according to their website.
"We are committed to making a first-class comprehensive research-oriented university in China, with unique characteristics and international fame,” their website says.
The two universities connected officially in the fall of 2016 as a part of a visit to China, according to Wilhelm.
Wilhelm said that with Xin Lu and the chairperson on board, they felt comfortable to begin a discussion with CUAS about a partnership. CUAS then submitted a proposal to the Chinese Ministry of Education with UNC-W as a partner, and the two began to work on establishing the 3+1 program.
"The desire on behalf of CUAS to work in a STEM area of strength here at UNC-W was really, really important,” Wilhem wrote.
Beginning in fall 2018, CUAS students focused on mathematics and data science will be able to begin the program, spending three years at their home institution, then their fourth at UNC-W.
In the press release, Wenli He, vice director of Chinese-Foreign Program Management Committee at Chongqing University of Arts and Sciences, said both schools had strong faculty and programs.
UNC-W students don't have the same opportunity with the 3+1 program, but will be able to attend CUAS on semester and year-long exchange programs.
Wilhelm said the program is an opportunity for students who cannot participate in study abroad to get an international experience on campus. He added that the program offers a fantastic opportunity for those in its Chinese language courses by providing an opportunity to develop language and mentorship skills on both sides.
"We do an excellent job getting students into education abroad programming at UNC-W, with over 1,000 heading out on credit-bearing programs each year," he said. "But for students who cannot participate but are still preparing to compete after graduation in a shrinking world and competitive, global job market, it is incumbent upon UNC-W to provide opportunities for an international experience on campus as well."
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