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Feature: Midwest U.S. university aspires to attract more Chinese students

Author  :  Yang Shilong, Xu Jing, Chang Yuan     Source  :    Xinhua     2018-08-29

It might be not as famous as the Ivy League schools, Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), located in Cleveland, the U.S. midwestern state of Ohio, is among the top American universities that Chinese students choose to study in.

Out of 798 U.S. colleges and universities, CWRU, one of the country's leading private research institutions, scored the 38th place in the ranking of the best U.S. colleges & universities for students from China released recently by the college ratings site College Factual.

The colleges were ranked for education quality, as well as a strong and growing community of Chinese students and other international students.

CHINESE STUDENTS ARE WONDERFUL INTELLECTUAL CONTRIBUTORS 

"We get more international students from China than any other country in the world," said Barbara Snyder, CWRU's first woman president, in an interview with Xinhua recently in the private research university located about 5 miles (8 kms) east of Downtown Cleveland, a major city in Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie.

The population of Chinese students at CWRU continues to grow and about 1,400 Chinese students, including 500 undergraduates and 900 graduates, students are currently on campus, among a total population of 2,200-strong international students.

CWRU has witnessed a 29.2 percent increase of students from China in the past five years, according to College Factual.

"I have found our Chinese students to be wonderful contributors to the campus intellectually," said Snyder, who just finished her 11th year as president. "We celebrate various events with our Chinese students and other students get invited to those events as well, we think it's good for everybody."

"The Chinese students to come the Case Western Reserve are extremely well prepared for university ...These are very talented students," she said.

Snyder created the Center for international affairs after she came to CWRU which serves as the first space on campus designed to provide a "home" for international students.

Headed by David Fleshler, CWRU's vice provost for international affairs, the center's mission is to "cultivate a dynamic international presence and inspiring a culture of global understanding and responsibility."

"It was in our first strategic plan and faculty really wanted to see something like that," she said. "We now are much more welcoming of international students than we were before, (we) have dramatically increased the number and percentage of international students in the undergraduate population in particular."

The center also encourages students coming from the United States to study abroad to have international experiences while a diverse population of international student helps bring global learning to the campus, Snyder said.

"It is hard to predict the future but we continue to believe that that having global cooperation is important for academic institutions," she said. "Our mission is to foster,enhance understanding among peoples and to create new knowledge. Deeper understanding comes from collaboration."

"We think it's a good thing and we hope that by bringing people together, people who have expertise in different disciplines, faculty members from across the globe, there are continuing opportunities for sharing knowledge and enhancing understanding and we think the same is true for students," she said.

ALUMNI ARE TRULY BEST AMBASSADORS IN CHINA AND EVERYWHERE 

CWRU continues to welcome Chinese students by various innovative ways to raise its profile in China, such as providing better education opportunities, forging partnerships with Chinese universities and colleges and holding alumni events in major Chinese cities, Snyder said.

"We've been very fortunate to have a lot of help as we forge partnerships in China," she said. Snyder came to China twice last year.

Though CWRU does not have any immediate plans to open a campus in China, but it has been working on many joint research projects, and faculty and student exchanges programs with some of the universities in China.

"One of the great things is to be able to collaborate and our faculty do (collaborate) in various research projects across a variety of disciplines with colleagues in China and we think it makes the work better that we have those international collaborations," she said.

Some of the most popular subjects Chinese students study at CWRU include Finance & Financial Management, Operations Research, and Accounting. And For Chinese students, one of CWRU's major attraction is that they get opportunities to choose different majors and to combine majors and minors "in really interesting ways," Snyder said.

"If you apply and get accepted as an undergraduate student, you can choose any major you want and there is no secondary requirement to be in a particular major once you get admitted to the University. All of our programs are available to you as an undergraduate student," she said. "So our faculty will work with students who want to bring different programs together and they are able to do in a lot of ways design the kind of combination of major and minor that they really want."

The 63-year-old president said they continue to promote in China CWRU's great opportunities for study both undergraduate as well as graduate when she and her colleagues travel to China.

"I talked to people about that and we also asked our alumni to help get the word out and they actually do a great job," she said. "In fact, in some ways I would say our alumni are truly our best ambassadors, not just in China but everywhere. We are doing another alumni event that will be I believe at the end of October."

Snyder also credited CWRU's reputation in China to the cooperation with the Chinese community in Cleveland.

The 86-year-old Anthony Yen, an inductee of the Cleveland International Hall of Fame, and advisory board member of the Greater Cleveland Chinese Chamber of Commerce, has been with CWRU's elite external advisory group -- International Affairs Visiting Committee for 6 years and contributed broad input and advice regarding the university's mission in China, she said.

"We just finished a beautiful landscape project, about 13 1/2 acres and the big giant green space that is called the Nord Family Greenway and it actually incorporates the Chinese Cultural Garden which has existed for a number of years, so we're really proud of our partnership with the Chinese community here in Cleveland," Snyder said.

In the 2016-2017 academic year, more than 350,000 Chinese students studied in the United States, according to the latest figure released by Project Atlas, a global research initiative on students mobility. These Chinese students contribute about 11 billion U.S. dollars to the U.S. economy in tuition fees, school supplies, housing and other personal expenses, experts estimate.

The CWRU was created in 1967 through the federation of two longstanding contiguous institutions: Western Reserve University, founded in 1826 and named for its location in the Connecticut Western Reserve; and Case Institute of Technology, founded in 1880 through the endowment of Leonard Case. Seventeen Nobel laureates have been affiliated with Case Western Reserve or one of its two predecessors. In U.S. News & World Report's 2018 rankings, Case Western Reserve was ranked 37th among national universities and 146th among global universities.

Editor: Li Yujie

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