The University of Missouri – St. Louis is currently helping to establish a fully-American school in China. UMSL has partnered with Tianfu College – Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (TC-SWUFE), in the Sichuan province of China, as well as Missouri University of Science and Technology (UM – S&T) to help build, staff and begin operations of a Chinese-based, American University.
According to a presentation given to the University of Missouri – System Board of Curators, as well as the President of the UM – System, China’s economy is in a state of rapid growth (over 10 percent in the past two decades), and a newly emerged middle class, consisting of “as many as 250 million people” are now in search of a strong, “secure international (U.S.) education.”
“There will be a waiting list for this university,” Thomas George, chancellor, UMSL, said. With a desire to help secure this education and a recognition that “U.S. education credential is the second preference” in China, only to that of admission to very elite Chinese universities, this merged project is expected to be huge. “They are not worried about admissions at this point, due to the popularity of an American education,“ Joel Glassman, associate provost of academic affairs and director of the Center for International Studies, UMSL, said.
The proposed university will be named Sichuan Missouri University, and will be jointly operated by members of all three benefactors to its construction. “It will operate under a Board, its own Board, with a total of nine members. Four of these members will be representatives from the UM System: two from each UMSL and Missouri S&T,” George said.
As such, SMU will not even truly be a member of the UM – System, but will rather be what Glassman referred to as an “Affiliate University.” UMSL, Missouri S&T and SMU will have a strong relationship, but SMU will be entirely run by its own faculties. “They will fund it, operate it. They just want something which operates like an American university, but in China,” George said.
This new university will provide a number of benefits to its partner universities stateside. Naturally, this will lead to enhanced study abroad opportunities for students from China, as well as students of UMSL and Missouri S&T. Additionally, professors who wish to try their hand at teaching in China will also be able to benefit from having a private, Chinese university so closely affiliated with the UM – System.
In addition, UMSL and Missouri S&T will receive not only compensation for their services to the construction of the campus, curriculum and services on the board itself, but will also share in the profits of SMU for their partnership. “This is a partnership which could eventually bring in at least three or four thousand dollars in profit alone per year,” George said. “And that would actually be after they have paid for our services,” Glassman said.
George and Glassman also explained that both UMSL and Missouri S&T would be providing their own program advice during the construction of SMU’s curriculum. UMSL would naturally be advising over the construction of a business school, along with programs for nursing and English, whereas Missouri S&T would be more prone to provide additions to engineering programs.
According to George and Glassman, this project still needs approval from the Ministry of Education in China. However, should it go through, the Sichuan Missouri University is expected to be up and running by 2015. “The first two-year degrees would like be given out by 2017 or 2018,” Glassman said. Keep those eyes open, UMSL students, for new opportunities may soon be on the horizon.
By: Matthew B. Poposky, Editor-in-Chief