Funding the Effort to Send More Students to China

The US wants more students to go to China

An opinion piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education suggests a new approach to supporting US students studying in China:

During his 2009 visit to Shanghai, President Obama made a public promise to sharply increase the number of Americans studying in China. That promise became the 100,000 Strong Initiative, introduced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last May with the stated goal of doubling the number of Americans studying in China by 2014. However, the U.S. State Department explicitly said that no public funds would be provided to assist with the effort, and suggested instead that colleges turn to the private sector to raise an estimated $68-million.Even those of us who are committed to the goal of sending more American students to China realize that making the case for major gifts to meet the goals of the 100,000 Strong Initiative, and competing with other worthy causes for much-needed funds, is difficult at best. While it’s true that some philanthropic funds do find their way to supporting study abroad and other international programs, the reality is that only $3.25-million has been committed since President Obama’s goal was announced, leaving $64.75-million to go. We are, therefore, compelled to identify and cultivate new sources of financial support.

These aren’t great times to be seeking private funding for such programmes. Therefore, the proposition here is that universities share the resources generated from inbound international student fees in order to provide the funding required to support the ambitions of the 100,000 Strong Initiative. It’s an interesting notion and would represent something of a collaborative landmark were it to happen. However, I suspect it is probably as likely to succeed in the US as it would in the UK. Which is a pity because such student mobility ambitions are admirable.

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