China Program is a Passport to a Rich Experience
UT Dallas and Beijing Jiaotong University Forge Student Exchange Agreement
UT Dallas’ School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences has launched a new exchange program with a university in China, as it attempts to encourage students to visit Asia and learn about the emerging global powerhouse.
The agreement between UT Dallas and Beijing Jiaotong University was finalized at the end of 2009 and allows for one-for-one exchange between the two institutions. The exchange can involve undergraduates, graduate students or faculty. Two students per year are allowed to participate.
Two faculty members from Beijing are due to spend a year at UT Dallas beginning in February. They will take classes here and share their expertise on economic issues involving transportation and the environment. UT Dallas faculty members also are being encouraged to take advantage of the program.
Though the new program was developed by the School of Economic, Political and Policy Science, it is open to all students at UT Dallas. The faculty member who helped to formalize this commitment is Dr. James Murdoch, professor of economics, and he hopes the exchange will attract a broad variety of students.
“I think it could be an excellent opportunity for any student with an interest in global business and economics or just a desire to learn more about a different culture,” he said. “Participants should return with a better understanding of how individuals in other parts of the world think, and this knowledge will benefit them in just about any field they wish to enter.”
Beijing Jiaotong University is highly respected internationally and best known for its economics and business faculty. The school’s enrollment is about 25,000. It is located in the heart of China’s capital, and students have easy access to subways and trains, which they can use to travel around the city and throughout the country.
Murdoch said he would like economic and political science students to consider participating in the program to gain exposure to Chinese culture and politics. But he also expects business management students to see the advantage of visiting China and familiarizing themselves with potential future partners and competitors.
“I think any student interested in international business or energy development or international politics might find this opportunity worth looking into,” Murdoch said. “I think the experience will give students a broader perspective and an understanding of the complexities of the political and economic realities of modern China.”
The agreement between the two universities allows students to pay tuition and fees at the home institution and to attend courses at the host school. The students visit for one semester and are responsible for their room and board, health insurance, as well as travel expenses. The cost of living in China generally is slightly lower than in Texas, Murdoch said. Some UT Dallas students may be eligible for the International Education Fund Scholarship. Also Academic Excellence Scholarships may be applied.
This exchange program is different from other agreements between UT Dallas and Chinese universities because it is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. Before signing up for the program, students will need to satisfy the international education protocol, including checking with their academic advisors to confirm the classes they plan to take in Beijing will earn them credit at UT Dallas.
Murdoch said students who choose to spend a semester outside the country often opt for Europe or Latin America. Those locations are thought to be less challenging in terms of adaptation. But the Chinese are quite welcoming to Americans, and students won’t have any trouble making friends, he said.
Many of the classes are taught in English at Jiaotong University, and students are always eager to get the chance to practice their English skills with visitors.
Murdoch also is attempting to put together a group of faculty members and students to visit the Chinese university for two weeks in the summer of 2011. The students would spend their time in China taking courses and exploring the country. Group members also would attend preparation classes here before departing for the trip, to better position them to benefit from the experience.
“Some people just won’t be able to spare an entire semester to study abroad, so I think this shorter trip would be a good chance to experience China as part of a group,” he said.
Dr. Rodolfo Hernandez Guerrero, director of the Office of International Education at UT Dallas, said the new program is an important addition to the school’s effort to encourage its students to expand their awareness of other parts of the world. It also will help even the balance between Asian students who study here and Americans who study abroad. Currently, UT Dallas has about 2,000 international students, most of whom come from China, India or South Korea, he said.
“This is important because it will help us to expand UT Dallas’ international reputation, especially for the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences,” he said. “I think students will be surprised by how much they can learn about a different culture by living in another country. It’s an experience that will help them appreciate diversity and better understand how to deal with different types of people.”
UT Dallas demonstrated its recognition of China’s important place in the world by working with that nation’s Three Gorges University to establish the state’s first Confucius Institute in 2007. Its purpose is to increase mutual respect and cooperation between the people of China and the Southwest region by promoting the study of China’s language, history and culture. Students at UT Dallas also can take Chinese language courses through the School of Arts and Humanities.
Programs at the City University of Hong Kong and Fudan University in Shanghai also offer students the chance to live and study in China.