By Andrea Gils
Representatives from 15 University of Kentucky colleges traveled to China during the summer to learn about Chinese higher education and expand education abroad opportunities in China for UK students. The collaboration between UK Education Abroad and the UK Confucius Institute enabled participants to experience first-hand important educational and cultural sites.
Dr. Huajing Maske, director of the UKCI and executive director of the Office of China Initiatives, saw this trip as an innovative opportunity to join hands with EA to expand the horizon of educating UK students about China.
“Creating opportunities for UK students to become globally knowledgeable and competent has always been the mission of the Confucius Institute,” Maske said. “We are very thrilled to see the synergy that was generated among the UK faculty and staff on this two-week long trip to China.”
Dr. Anthony Ogden, executive director of Education Abroad and Exchanges, saw this site visit as an opportunity to support UK’s vision to develop international education and global collaboration.
“China is now among the top five most popular countries for U.S. universities and college students studying abroad,” Ogden said. “Only 51 students, or 3.7 percent of the UK students who studied abroad in 2014-15 chose to study in China. We would like to see these numbers grow to match national trends.”
Increasing student participation in study abroad begins with faculty engagement, Ogden explained.
“To advance campus internationalization at UK requires that we engage our faculty in opportunities to internationalize their curriculum and support their research and scholarship at an international level,” Ogden said. “With this goal in mind, we invited representatives of each college on this site visit to become more familiar with Chinese higher education and society and understand the broad range of education abroad potential there.”
Outcomes for the programming will vary for each college, with exciting opportunities for students already underway. Dr. Samuel C. Matheny, assistant provost for Global Health Initiatives, participated in the site visit to develop international medical education at UK. While in China, Matheny forged a relationship with Fudan University, where fourth-year medical students will spend one of their monthly rotations developing intercultural competencies and a broader knowledge of global healthcare.
The College of Education is also actively expanding international education opportunities for its students. Dr. Katherine McCormick took part in the site visit to develop an interdisciplinary, service- learning program in China.
Faculty and staff traveled to Shanghai, Tianjin, and Beijing to meet with university faculty, education abroad professionals, and government officials to discuss the factors that shape the student experience in China.
A particular emphasis was placed in understanding the many challenges and opportunities involved in sending U.S. students to study in China. Cultural destinations included visits to the Shanghai Museum, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Great Wall.
These faculty delegates have already met on campus this fall to discuss findings and develop college-specific action plans to enhance education abroad programming in China.