PRESQUE ISLE — Approximately five years after first forging a relationship, officials from two universities spanning two nations recently signed a collaborative agreement that will establish a transitional college in China.
Representatives from the University of Maine at Presque Isle and Siyuan University, located in Xi’an, China, held a formal signing ceremony Wednesday at the Main Street campus. Representatives from the Chinese university were in the United States to complete the process.
Siyuan University is a 16-year-old, non-government-funded educational institution in China, according to its website, and educates approximately 18,000 students.
In May, several officials from UMPI, including Raymond Rice, provost and vice president for academic and student affairs, and President Linda Schott, traveled to China for a series of meetings with several Chinese education groups. They spent a day touring and meeting with officials at Siyuan University to discuss the creation of a joint Chinese-American college that would offer degrees in business, education and environmental studies.
As part of the new initiative, which was first suggested by Siyuan University, students will receive UMPI’s new international tuition rate for the courses they take. Graduates will receive degrees from both UMPI and Siyuan.
All instruction within the newly established college — to be located on the Siyuan University campus — will be conducted in English, and UMPI’s curriculum and teaching materials will be used for the majority of the instruction. All students who participate in this opportunity will take at least 30 credit hours directly from UMPI, which can be completed in residence at UMPI, in China or online.
“It will be a four-year degree program,” Rice explained. “And the Chinese students can spend two years at UMPI if they would like to study here and improve their English skills more, or just a year. Many parents in China would like to give their child the experience of going to college in the United States for a year or two, but it is super-expensive. This new international tuition rate is going to allow us to do that.”
Siyuan University will recruit and enroll students for this college as well as provide the day-to-day management. Because the college will be located in China, Siyuan will provide the housing and food to enrolled students. Siyuan will also provide the facilities needed for instruction delivered in China and work with the Chinese government on permits needed. UMPI will send one representative to Siyuan once a year to participate in recruitment activities. UMPI will also oversee the selection of instructors for the joint college and provide professional development to them.
“The University of Maine System has already approved this, which gives us the first formal agreement for joint delivery of programs in Maine,” he said. “We still have a lot to wrap up, but we are very excited, because this is not just an exchange program; this is a joint degree program between our schools.”
Yanbo Zhou, chairman of the Siyuan University board and president of the Bohua Group that oversees the university, represented Siyuan during the signing of the agreement.
“Because of this joint college, there will be a way for more students in China to learn about American education from U.S. professors, and there will be a beneficial exchange between the faculties of our universities,” he said. “Once our students get to know these professors from the U.S., more will be willing to go to the U.S. and UMPI for education.”
Rice said Friday that the university has maintained a formal relationship with Siyuan since 2009, with Siyuan students traveling to UMPI to complete their education in the U.S.
All Siyuan students who have taken advantage of this opportunity have successfully earned degrees from UMPI.
President Schott also expressed excitement about the new transitional college, which she said is expected to open by fall 2015.
“We are so pleased to be partnering with Siyuan University on this exciting venture,” said Schott. “We hope to welcome more Siyuan students to UMPI and look forward to the success of our joint college with Siyuan.”
The establishment of the joint college and Siyuan University anticipates a maximum enrollment of 960 students.