FHSU Profile – China
Since it was founded in 1902, Fort Hays State University has blazed many new trails and enjoyed many successes, but perhaps none would have been as unexpected as the relationship the University has forged with China.
In the year 2000, China was on the verge of being admitted to the World Trade Organization and knew it would succeed only if its citizens were better educated. The time was ripe. China’s closed-door policies were fading away in favor of more open-door relationships and foreign education partnerships.
Meanwhile, the demographics in western Kansas were declining, with projections of fewer high school graduates in Fort Hays State's primary service area. There was an obvious need to expand. Initially, this expansion was into eastern Kansas and surrounding states, yet Fort Hays State’s flexible and affordable coursework and degrees would next extend beyond U.S. borders all the way to China.
In 2000, Fort Hays State had the opportunity to partner with a newly established, private university which just happened to be located in the sister province of Henan, China. Sias International University, affiliated with Zhengzhou University, opened its doors with 250 students, and Fort Hays State was its American partner, serving 81 of these students with coursework leading to dual bachelor's degrees. Fort Hays State was the first American university to be approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education as part of the “Sino-American Cooperation in Running Schools” initiative. At the time, only the Bachelor of General Studies degree was available as an option for these students.
In 2005, Fort Hays State added a second cross-border partner university in China to offer the Bachelor of General Studies degree with Shenyang Normal University in Liaoning Province. Then, in 2008, Fort Hays State began offering more degree programs to the students. The degree programs Fort Hays State offers today at its two partners are: Bachelor of Business Administration in management; Bachelor of Science in organizational leadership; Bachelor of Arts in global business English; Bachelor of Science in information networking and telecommunications; and Bachelor of Arts in political science.
Today, 3,276 students are enrolled in Fort Hays State's cross-border programs in China. Most importantly, the partnerships have been an educational boon. Students and faculty from Hays and from China have traveled to each other's country to study and teach. Economic development has occurred for the state of Kansas and will surely continue. The city of Xinzheng, where Sias is located, forged a Sister City relationship with Hays. In addition to the FHSU students in China, another 310 Chinese citizens are studying this year in Hays. The partners provide scholarships for three FHSU students to study short term in China during the summer; and Fort Hays State provides scholarships to the top students each year for post-graduate education in Hays.
Currently, Fort Hays State has graduated 6,246 students from Sias International University and Shenyang Normal University. The students are awarded their diplomas by President Edward H. Hammond each May-June in ceremonies that reflect those of American commencements. Almost all of these graduates are successfully employed or earning post-graduate degrees in China, abroad or at Fort Hays State.
It also must be noted that Fort Hays State's cross-border efforts are not limited to China. On the Hays campus, there are an additional 120 international students from 31 nations other than China.
The world is growing smaller and Fort Hays State recognizes that most careers are impacted by what is happening not just locally and nationally, but internationally. Many opportunities are provided for students to study abroad.
Students can participate in semester exchange programs and academic year exchange programs, or they can choose short-term, faculty-led international experiences. The Nursing Department has taken students to Brazil and Peru in recent summers and is planning another trip next summer. In another example, the Department of Modern Languages has arranged study abroad experiences at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.
Fort Hays State has partnerships with organizations such as the International Student Exchange Program, the Center for Cross-Cultural Study and the Center for Language Studies at Beloit College. These are established partnerships that allow students to study in various countries with confidence that their hours will count toward their FHSU degree. At St. John International University in Italy, Fort Hays State made arrangements for students to pay the same rate they would pay in Hays by providing scholarships to cover any difference in the cost of tuition or housing. These various programs involve about 75 to 100 FHSU students annually.
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