Murray State gained a new global partner in education when an agreement was signed with Chinese university Zhejiang Wanli in September.
The partnership between the two universities began before any paperwork was started. Guangming Zou, interim director of Institute for International Studies, said he was in Hong Kong for an international conference in 2012, and he ran into the director of Zhejiang Wanli University’s international program.
Zou said both he and Wanli’s director expressed interest in a partnership, and it began there.
The partnership between Murray State and Wanli University allows for exchange programs between the two schools. Students might be able to study abroad as early as fall 2015, Zou said.
A transfer agreement was an additional addendum to the partnership. In a typical study abroad scenario, students from Wanli University would come to Murray State for a semester or year program, then return to their home university. With the transfer agreement, if they chose, students could transfer and actually earn their degree from Murray State.
Zou said Wanli University sent representatives to Murray State to look at three programs: business, biology and environmental science. They came to find out how much time it would take to complete a degree, which credits and how many credits would transfer. Zou said if Wanli University students choose to transfer to Murray State, they have to know what it takes to satisfy Murray State’s credit requirements.
“We are talking about internationalizing the campus,” Zou said. “The world is becoming flatter and flatter.”
The partnership with Zhejiang Wanli University is the newest international agreement for Murray State, but it is merely the latest in a healthy tradition of international relationships. Zou said Murray State has more than 1,000 international students, with 200 to 300 in the English as a Second Language program every semester.
Kang Xu first arrived in Murray in August 2012. His university in China, Qingdao Agricultural University, had a partnership with Murray State that allowed Xu to study abroad for a year.
After his year in Kentucky was over, Xu decided to remain at Murray State for his master’s.
Xu, now a graduate student, said the international office at his university provided students with information about the exchange program.
“Murray State University has a really great reputation of success among the students who have ever been there, which attracted me and a lot of students from Qingdao,” he said.
Xu said there are numerous benefits to studying in foreign countries, including the chance to learn a different language.
“Languages, knowing and understanding other cultures, customs and values, not only broaden how you look at this colorful ‘world village,’ but also help students to find their life goals in wider geographic dimensions,” he said.
Xu complimented Murray State’s Institute for International Studies for the work it does recruiting students from other countries. He said the University is doing fantastic work with international involvement.
“Without the hard work from MSU’s staff and faculty, we wouldn’t have had chances to meet so many talented students from each part of the world through all kinds of activities,” Xu said.
Jay Morgan, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, said the University’s Institute for International Studies has worked on the agreement with Zhejiang Wanli for months.
“It is a great opportunity for students to study in China at a very good university and then transfer the credits back to Murray State,” Morgan said.
The new partnership with Wanli University is one of more than 50 such agreements Murray State has with international schools. Universities partnered with Murray State are spread across the globe in Asia, Europe, Central and South America.
Story by Kate Russell, Staff writer