Are there any downsides to opening a campus for your school in China?

New York University, which opened its Shanghai campus this month, is the latest brand-name university to open a China campus. NYU Shanghai is the first higher education institution to be jointly established by China and the US that is qualified to hand out degrees. The school plans to open enrollment for its Shanghai campus for the 2013 fall semester, and expects to eventually accommodate approximately 3,000 Chinese and international students.

Admissions to NYU Shanghai will follow a standard American university’s admissions process, according to NYU Shanghai’s official website, but it also includes the typical college application process for domestic Chinese universities. In addition to filling out the Common Application, Chinese students are expected to also take the gaokao (China’s National College Entrance Exam). This dual, rigorous evaluation process seems to be in keeping with the new university’s stated intention of admitting “the world’s most exceptional students for the inaugural NYU Shanghai class of 2017.” In other words, NYU Shanghai’s inaugural class must excel not only in a Chinese classroom environment but also to possess the well-rounded profiles that most universities hope to see in their applicants.

As a highly sought-after destination for Chinese students wishing to obtain a foreign education, NYU’s new campus in mainland China’s most metropolitan and modern city will be attractive to many students who otherwise cannot go abroad, for financial reasons or otherwise. For many Chinese parents, having their only child closer to home may also be a welcome alternative to the separation of four or more years.

Such proximity and access, however, brings the concern for some students that having a world-class university in their backyard can deprive them of the experience of living abroad in a foreign country.

“What fascinates me about leaving home and studying abroad is embarking on an adventurous journey in a foreign country, so I can study side by side with classmates from various countries and backgrounds. This is what I have not experienced yet in Shanghai,” says one student interviewed by Global Times.

Students in China who wish to go abroad for their university education do so for the very same reasons that many American students take a semester or a year in college to study abroad: to experience a different culture, to meet others and encounter different perspectives, to step outside of their comfort zones and challenge themselves in a new environment, to grow and tackle new responsibilities.

One distinct advantage of the NYU Shanghai campus, however, appears to be that Chinese students who are admitted will have opportunities to apply for financial aid. Chinese students attending universities in America as international students would not have the same opportunity.


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