Bridging the culture gap: UNT transfer program gives students two degrees and more

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - 14:08

DENTON, Texas (UNT) -- 43 students at the University of North Texas are experiencing a new approach to higher education that underscores the growing need for international collaboration in global marketplaces. Enrollees in the China 1+2+1 Transfer Program graduate with two degrees: one from UNT – the only university in Texas selected to join and one of 25 in the U.S. – and a second from a participating university in China.

UNT was selected as the sole Texas institution due to the diversity and quality of degree programs and its proximity to an international airport. Since the program began accepting students in the 2013-14 school year, enrollment has quadrupled from nine students, a reflection of the increasing importance of global connectedness in business and government dealings.

Nan Chen, a UNT junior majoring in finance from Fujian, China, said the program is perfect. He plans to enter international business after graduate school.

"I want to have experiences abroad," he said, adding that future employees must "face a new reality" and be able to adjust to the growing interconnectivity of the world.

Jiaying "Cathy" Hu, advisor for the transfer program, agrees.

"I want our students to learn and get a degree, but I also want to help them perceive the world in a better way so that when they go back, they will be able to bridge the gap between America and China," said Hu, herself a one-time international college student.

Officially known as the Sino-American Cooperation on Higher Education and Professional Development 1+2+1 Transfer Program, the program is coordinated by UNT-International. UNT's partners for the program are the China Center for International Educational Exchange, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, participating universities in China and more than 20 UNT departments.

"This program has helped increase the enrollment of the Chinese students and the diversity of students on the UNT campus," said Hu, noting that the 23 Chinese universities accredited by the China Ministry of Education are in the UNT program. "It's initiating possible collaborations in research and other educational programs."

She added that students have done well, with most earning grade point averages above 3.0. Many have been ranked on the UNT President's List and Dean's List and earned scholarships, and many continue with graduate school, she said.

Jiajun Teng, a UNT senior majoring in accounting from Gansu, China, said the program is "intense," but that she loves the challenge.

Teng recalled that for her first year at UNT, the team of individuals at the UNT-International Sponsored and Special Programs Center spent countless hours helping enrollees adjust. Staff picked students up from the airport and showed them where to get basics, like food and phone service, and helped with the transition into the U.S. culture and education system. Students were also connected to resources at UNT, like the Intensive English Language Institute, which prepares students for academic study by improving their English-language skills.

"IELI is a good transition to go to UNT," said Teng, who now speaks quickly and is sometimes asked to slow down. Since then, she has become active at UNT, joining multiple student organizations, volunteering with fellow classmates and maintaining a high grade point average needed for her scholarships.

Teng is expected to return to her home university in China in May 2016. She said that after she completes graduate school and starts her career in international business, she hopes to be able to collaborate with companies that collaborate in China and the U.S. – something that will enable her to return to a place she now calls her second home.

UNT News Service
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