More students will be arriving from China over the next few years to study five different majors at Brenau University, the result of a contract recently signed by Brenau President Ed Schrader with a third college in China.
Brenau agreed to the partnership with Anhui Business College in Wuhu, a town of more than 3.5 million people in the Anhui province between Shanghai and Beijing, Schrader said. The agreement calls for up to 30 students to transfer from Anhui Business College to Brenau for two years to complete a degree in business administration once they have finished the three-year program at Anhui. Once the students come to the Gainesville campus, they will choose a focus area of accounting, organizational management or finance.
“These students are just perfect for Gainesville and North Georgia because they’re not super-wired urbanites that would come from Beijing or New York or Chicago,” Schrader said. “They’re a little more comfortable at living life at a slower pace, so they fit right in.”
Brenau already has contracts with Anhui Normal University and Anhui University of Chinese Medicine, also located in Wuhu. The first early childhood education majors from Anhui Normal completed the first year of their two-year program at Brenau this month. Students majoring in English and interior design will follow after they complete their two years at Anhui Normal.
Nursing students will come to Brenau from Anhui University of Chinese Medicine once those students “have a complete mastery of conversational and medical English,” according to Schrader.
“You’ve got to be able to respond to be able to respond in life’s critical circumstances and situations instantaneously to a command in English,” Schrader said.
There were about 40 students from China at Brenau for the 2016-17 school year, but Schrader said he expects that number to grow to 120 as three schools begin sending more students over the next few years. The contracts call on the Chinese schools to recruit students for the Brenau program.
“This particular business college is highly rated,” he said. “I’m highly anticipatory of there being a good number of students coming this way who will be serious about participating in the educational opportunities. The fact that we have three productive, cooperative programs that are actually yielding students going both ways and substantially more students coming this way than are coming out is a real successful program.”
Schrader said Brenau has been sending four to six faculty to Wuhu each semester and will add two more in the fall. Brenau student ambassadors are also taking trips there to get to know the students who will be coming to Gainesville. Ten from the student ambassador program left Saturday for a trip to meet prospective students in Wuhu.
“I think it’s a really great opportunity for the Brenau students and for the students from Wuhu,” said Erin Henderson, a Brenau student ambassador, before her second trip to China. “It’s really eye-opening for everyone involved. We get just as much of a culture shock as they do; they just have it for longer.”
Like Henderson, Amanda Smith is also making her second trip to Wuhu as a student ambassador. She said the program provides opportunities for the Chinese and American students.
“Not only are we touching those so they can get better academic experiences, but we’re also being able to help our Brenau students understand the opportunities that Brenau offers for studying abroad,” Smith said.
Majors offered in the program were chosen because they were named by the Chinese government as “strategically important,” giving the Chinese schools funding for students who are in those majors even if they are studying at Brenau, according to Schrader.
The early childhood education degree, for example, is more important to the Chinese government, Schrader said, because the nation has recently ended its one-child policy and allows parents to have two children.
“In a period of five years, their entire primary school system will double in size,” he said.
Schrader, who first started traveling to China in the late 1980s, said these agreements to bring in Chinese students are difficult to get because approval is required by the institutions and the Chinese government. He said it is unusual for one university in the United States to be approved for five different degree programs.
He added that the agreement with Anhui Business College is likely the last Brenau will pursue in China. He said once the Chinese program is established, Brenau will look at other partnerships that could include Central America, South America and Europe.