Visit by university’s delegation includes negotiations on student, faculty exchange
NANNING, China — Middle Tennessee State University has opened a student recruitment office at Guangxi University as part of its efforts to bolster international enrollment and strengthen ties in southern China.
The office, operated through the private Canadian Foundation Center for International Education (CFCIE), will help MTSU recruit and assist Guangxi students interested in pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees at the Murfreesboro campus.
“The signing of this agreement today is consistent with our strategic plan to internationalize our campus,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee. “We will gladly work with Chinese students who meet our admissions standards to help them achieve their goals.
“We want this to be a two-way street,” he said. “We will also send our faculty and students to Guangxi so they can learn the culture and language, so that we become better people and better citizens of the world.”
Ceremonies marking the creation of the office part of a two-day visit by an MTSU delegation to China that concluded Thursday. The delegation is headed by McPhee and includes Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and a 1976 graduate of the university.
MTSU has an international enrollment of more than 700 full-time, degree-seeking students, a 16.5 percent increase over last year and a jump of almost 30 percent from 2011. McPhee has pursued international enrollment to diversify the MTSU campus and increase revenue for the university.
McPhee and the delegation also toured the GU campus and opened negotiations with GU President Zhao Yahlin and his cabinet to begin student and faculty exchanges between the Murfreesboro and Nanning campuses. McPhee also gave a lecture to GU students.
The university’s delegation to China has renewed or established relationships with Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Hangzhou Normal University and the Research Institute of Industrial Design of Shunde. The delegation will visit institutions in Beijing and Chongqing before returning June 3.
“We just don’t sign agreements and have them sit on a shelf and collect dust,” McPhee said. “We seek results.”
The opening ceremonies were attended by several prominent local officials, including Chen Zhanaliang, vice governor of Guangxi, whose friendship with McPhee stretches back to his time as president of China Agricultural University.
“This is a very special ceremony and a very good outcome and result,” Chen said, adding that he felt it was “very important” to have a physical presence in Guangxi in order to strengthen ties between the two campuses.
“On behalf of our government, I would like to congratulate this activity and best wishes for this association and further cooperation.”
MTSU’s Guangxi office will operate under the auspices of Samuel Rong, chairman and CEO of CFCIE, and David Schmidt, the university’s vice provost for international affairs. CFCIE operates a network of English-language outreach and preparatory education centers.
This is the university’s first overseas representative office, McPhee said, and it reflects MTSU’s growing commitment to Guangxi, an autonomous region on China’s border with Vietnam. The region is also home to the Guangxi Botanical Garden of Medicinal Plants, at which MTSU works with as a research partner and collaborator.
Founded in 1928, Guangxi University (GU) has an enrollment of more than 24,000 students, slightly less than MTSU’s total. Also like MTSU, most of its students are undergraduates and it is known for its wide variety of majors within its 20 colleges.
Its academic disciplines include various degree programs in Public Management; Commerce: Culture and Mass Communication; Agriculture; and Science, as well as specialties within Education, Science and Engineering.
GU boasts academic exchanges with more than 100 universities or research institutes in 28 countries or regions, including long-term relationships with Western Michigan University in the U.S.; Gifu University and Mie University in Japan; and Cambridge University in Great Britain.