Chinese exchange programs in U of C’s future

By Sara Hanson

As China’s economy continues to experience unprecedented growth, the University of Calgary has decided to contribute its two cents.

Earlier this month, U of C vice-president research and international Dr. Dennis Salahub travelled to China with Advanced Education minister Doug Horner to develop exchange programs with selected Chinese institutions. Salahub first visited Bejing to renew an exchange agreement that allows MBA students from the China University of Petroleum to study at the Haskayne School of Business. A general student and faculty exchange agreement was also signed with Tsinghua University in Beijing, often referred to as the MIT of China. Salahub then travelled to Harbin–located in Alberta’s sister province Heilongjiang–to sign a research agreement with the Harbin Institute of Technology, where Alberta already has some laboratory presence.

With a population of over 1.4 billion people, China has over 1000 universities, from which the U of C has chosen 12 they would like to develop relationships with.

“The energy connection with Calgary is an important part of it,” said Salahub. “We interact with the private sector as well.”

Students from CUP who are accepted to the exchange program complete one year of studies in Beijing and then travel to the U of C to complete the two-year MBA program. However, the exchange agreement does not permit U of C students to study in China yet, according to Haskayne School of Business interim dean Vern Jones.

“In the future, we plan to send faculty and students [to China],” he said. “But currently, they don’t have the program in place.”

Jones explained that part of the renewed agreement, which will last for five years, is to assist the Petroleum University in redesigning their MBA programs. When their program has proper accreditation standards, U of C students will be able to complete an MBA in China, which Jones believes will be very beneficial.

“One of the ideal things about the program is that we connect our people with the energy industry in China,” he said. “When we look to international partnerships, we are partially looking for universities that are connected to the energy industry.”

The connections between the U of C and China’s economic world are already apparent, as Salahub noted some Haskayne graduates are currently working in upper management for Chinese businesses. In addition to providing job opportunities for future business and engineering graduates, Salahub believes exchange programs with Chinese universities are instrumental to Alberta’s economy.

“These people will become the partners that we will deal with in the future,” he noted. “When companies [from China] come to do business in Alberta, they will be guided by people who know Alberta because they studied and lived here. I think that’s a very valuable part of business with these countries.”

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