First independent overseas university in China to be set up in Hainan

By Li Qiao Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/10 0:21:15

Aerial photo taken on April 4, 2020 shows the Atlantis resort in Sanya, South China's Hainan Province. Photo:Xinhua

The first overseas university independent education project in China is to be set up in South China's Hainan Province, marking the opening-up of the education sector and attracting advanced talents to the Hainan Free Trade Port, experts said.

The Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences of Germany (FH Bielefeld) is planning to establish an international, private and independent university in Yangpu Economic Development Zone, Hainan. 

All courses offered by the school in Hainan have a practical orientation. They can be studied under an employment contract with a cooperating company, or with intensive practical training, Prof. Dr. Ingeborg Schramm-Wölk, president of the university, told the Global Times.

FH Bielefeld will offer practice-integrated courses of study. It now cooperates with more than 400 companies in various study programs.

The school is planning to firstly offer courses in economic engineering, intelligent logistics, mechatronic integration, applied automation, data science, industrial design and service, and engineering management. It is planning to enroll students in 2021 in Hainan, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

"Compared with cooperative education, this university in Hainan is independently run by a German university. The appointment of teachers will be decided by the German university, which demonstrates the educational opening of the Hainan Free Trade Zone and China's determination to expand opening of the educational sector," Chu Chaohui, a research fellow at China's National Institute of Education Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The majors offered by the school are in line with the needs of  the vigorous development of Hainan, and will help graduates find employment opportunities in Hainan, said Chu, adding that it is also a good opportunity for the German university to promote their international education.

The university will target Chinese students and students from the Southeast Asian region. German students will also be able to take an exchange year at the school, said Prof. Dr. Ingeborg Schramm-Wölk.

The curriculum in Hainan will be developed by colleagues in Germany and will correspond to the study programs offered by the FH Bielefeld. In the beginning, professors will teach mainly from Germany, but gradually qualified lecturers from all over the world and the region will also be included. The school is also planning to offer all highly qualified lecturers a variety of preparatory training courses in order to successfully implement the dual study model with a high proportion of practical experience, so that all lecturers have both Chinese and German expertise, according to FH Bielefeld.

English will be the official language of instruction in this Hainan school. An "International Center" is planned to be established, offering the opportunity to learn German. Students who are not from China will also have the opportunity to learn Chinese. 

Intercultural competence development will be another focus. "The German orientation of the university is very important to us in cultural, economic and entrepreneurial terms," Prof. Dr. Ingeborg Schramm-Wölk said.

The university in Hainan plans to offer four-year Bachelor's programs that include a Chinese degree. In addition, the best students in Hainan school will be given the opportunity to obtain a degree from FH Bielefeld in Germany. Conversely, this also applies to students at the university in German. "We plan to harmonize the curricula of the study programs at both universities so that the year abroad is easy to plan," she said.

Whether Chinese students can apply for the university with their score from China's national college entrance examinations is still under discussion.

Schramm-Wölk noted that foreign language competence and project-related work is very demanding. Therefore, the school is looking for motivated and talented first-year students. 

Currently, the entrance requirements will be similar to the German ones. 

The project is in the planning, development and coordination phase currently, and the school will announce admission criteria in consideration of the legal regulations in due time.

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