UCSD has signed a historic agreement with the Chinese Ministry of Education to train student affairs officers from universities throughout China.
Thirty-three officers, selected from a wide variety of programs and universities, have begun instruction at UCSD Extension for what will be a 13-week program.
Those participating in the program will study English while receiving instruction on how student affairs are structured in a higher-education setting. English-language improvement is an essential aspect of the program, due to the ubiquity of English in matters of science, technology and business. Participants are expected to return to their native institutions with an understanding of student affairs in the United States, so as to adapt and implement similar policies within Chinese institutions.
Roxanne Nuhaily, director of international studies at UCSD Extension, was responsible for assembling the program’s curriculum at the request of the China Scholarship Council, an affiliate of the Chinese Ministry of Education that provides financial assistance for education overseas. Nuhaily said the program has so far exceeded her initial expectations. She credits Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Penny Rue and special assistant to the vice chancellor Cynthia Davalos with facilitating contact between the Chinese officials participating in the program and the UCSD Office of Student Affairs.
“The participation, enthusiasm and warm welcome of our campus administrators has been gratifying,” she said. “It has made me proud.”
UCSD has a history of opening its doors to foreign scholars looking to continue their research and broaden their academic scope abroad. Six years ago, communication was initiated with the Chinese Ministry of Education to eventually allow for Chinese scholars in the fields of science and engineering to observe American professors teaching at UCSD, in a push to improve their own scientific and technical teaching methods in China.
“They really enjoyed and appreciated the style of American professors in terms of engaging the students,” Nuhaily said.
Students noted that impromptu discussions, in-class humor and professors’ loose adherence to lesson plans differed from the Chinese approach to instruction in similar fields.
Participants in the program hail from top-ranked Chinese institutions, such as Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Tsinghua University and Fudan University. The selection process for the program at UCSD was rigorous and competitive. Unlike earlier exchanges, current participants represent a broader set of fields, including nonscientific disciplines.
UCSD was selected as the program’s host institution in part for its high rankings in both the social and physical sciences.
“We are on their radar screen as a [noteworthy] campus,” Nuhaily said.
Henry Devries, communications director for UCSD Extension, said the program’s exchange of ideas and culture falls in step with Chancellor Marye Anne Fox’s mission to internationalize UCSD.
“One of the things that UCSD wants is local impact, national influence and global reach,” he said. “This will open up doors for partnerships in the future with UCSD and Chinese universities.”
Nuhaily will visit China next month to report on the success of the program and gather input regarding similar partnerships that incorporate U.S. teaching practices into Chinese education systems.