KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Celebrations of both the newest and one of the oldest of Western Michigan University's international education partnerships served as bookends for an early July trip to Malaysia and China by Western Michigan University President John M. Dunn.
Dunn's trip included:
- The 30th anniversary celebration of Sunway Education Group in Malaysia and the 30th anniversary of a WMU partnership with that organization that created a "twinning" program through which students could spend two years studying in their home nations before completing the final two years of their degree programs at WMU.
- The opening ceremony for the Western Michigan Institute, Guizhou University of Finance and Economics—GUFE—celebrating the expansion of a partnership agreement with the Chinese university that will bring hundreds of business students to WMU.
Dunn was an invited speaker at both events, and he was accompanied to both locations by two representatives from WMU's Haenicke Institute for Global Education: Dr. Jane Blyth, interim associate provost, and Dr. Ying Zeng, director of Asian initiatives.
On July 5, in Malaysia, Dunn noted that WMU has welcomed students from that nation to WMU for more than 45 years, and the University was the first to formally partner with the Sunway Education Group when it launched Sunway College. Today, universities from around the globe are part of similar partnerships with Sunway, and WMU has more than 2,600 alumni in Malaysia.
The Friday, July 7, opening ceremony in China featured officials from the Chinese Ministry of Education and the Guizhou provincial government. The event celebrated an expansion of an agreement finalized in 2014 between GUFE and WMU that established a 3+1 joint program in accountancy. Under the agreement, GUFE students complete the first three years of their undergraduate accountancy program in China and the final year in the Haworth College of Business on WMU's main campus in Kalamazoo. Nearly 200 GUFE students are enrolled in that program.
"The agreement solidifies our relationship with the Guizhou University of Finance and Economics with the creation of a joint institute," says Dr. Devrim Yaman, associate dean for undergraduate programs in the Haworth College of Business.
Thanks to the expanded joint agreement, finalized and approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education in May, future students will have electronic business marketing, finance and personal financial planning as program options.
The first two GUFE cohorts totaling 186 students began the accountancy program in 2015 and 2016 and are scheduled to complete their final years of study at WMU in 2018 and 2019. This fall, about 300 students are expected to begin the expanded program and finish their studies in 2020.
"International partnerships are important for the Haworth College of Business and WMU," Yaman says. "The joint institute is one more way we can provide a global education to our students."
GUFE instructors travel to the U.S. to train with WMU's business college faculty to align curriculum and observe teaching styles. Four GUFE instructors were on the WMU campus in 2016 for training, and two more are expected this fall semester. Additionally, WMU faculty travel to China during the summer to serve as exchange instructors for courses in the business program.
Finalizing the agreement
"Developing agreements in China is a lengthy process," explains WMU's Zeng, "because the Ministry of Education controls a lot of variables and you must seek special approval to deviate from them."
Although the joint agreement was granted special approval by the Chinese Ministry of Education in May, the negotiation process took more than a year. Dunn visited GUFE in April 2016 with the former associate provost for the Haenicke Institute for Global Education, Dr. Wolfgang Schlör, and Zeng to initiate the negotiation.
Learn more about WMU's international partnerships at wmich.edu/international.
For more WMU news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.