In a recent effort to increase the resources available to UCD students, an agreement has been signed between the President of UCD, Dr Hugh Brady and the President of Beijing University of Technology, with the aim of setting up an International University in Beijing.
An International University will be set up in Beijing in two phases. In Phase One, joint degrees will be offered by both universities to enrolled Chinese students, and to some extent, to international and Irish students, and studies will be on an existing campus of Beijing University of Technology (BJUT). Phase Two will take place after four years, when a new independent campus will have been constructed and a full International University established that will award its own degrees.
Project Manager, UCD’s Professor A. Keenan, hopes this will “serve as a high quality study abroad location for Irish students … while there are certainly challenges [awaiting students], the potential rewards are considerable”.
Prof. Keenan maintains that although the language barrier can be a difficulty, “there is [a great] enthusiasm among younger people in China to learn English”. He explains that Chinese students are eager “to look outwards and learn about Western culture, educational systems and business opportunities.” From an Irish perspective, due specifically to the UCD Confucius Institute and the Irish Institute for Chinese Studies, “interest is developing among Irish students too”.
From September 2012, the international campus will offer among others, degrees in Science, Engineering, Food Science, Environmental Science, Information and Communication Technology. The partnership will also expand existing opportunities within the Bachelor of Commerce degree and its international counterpart.
“It is envisaged that a selection of approximately five of the [aforementioned] degrees will be on offer to Chinese students also, with the potential for Irish students to take some as part of their Degree programs.”
Prof. Keenan expresses hope that “in the future, this will serve as a model for more partnerships like this”.
According to UCD’s strategic plan, the initiative was set up in what was described as an “increasingly globalised” society; “university graduates will be expected to live and work across borders and cultures, either physically or electronically, from the day they graduate. This will especially be the case in Ireland, where the success of businesses will depend on their ability to operate and trade globally.”
The first degree programs should be available next September, providing applications to government authorities in Beijing are approved on time.