OSWEGO — SUNY Oswego last month signed its first international agreement for a mutual degree program in the natural sciences, establishing a “two-plus-two” program in chemistry with Zhejiang Gongshang University in Hangzhou, eastern China.
The agreement outlines a chemistry degree program in which students from Zhejiang Gongshang study for two years there and apply to transfer to SUNY Oswego for the final two years of study.
The pact and two others in business majors with other universities in China build on the shorter-term student exchanges and other cooperative ventures Oswego has undertaken with seven partner universities in China.
Lorrie Clemo, interim provost and vice president of academic affairs, and a counterpart at the Chinese university, Ren Zhiguo, vice president for international cooperation, signed an articulation agreement Nov. 10, formally laying out the academic requirements –including English language studies — and many other characteristics of the new program.
“The way we are approaching this, with articulation agreements, ensures us we will have international students coming in to the college at a faster rate, and assures us they will be well-prepared for college work here and positioned for success,” Clemo said.
It was a particularly important goal of the trip, she said, to continue to work toward solidifying the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) educational pipeline.
Kestas Bendinskas, associate professor of chemistry, laid the groundwork for the agreement this fall in a visit to Zhejiang Gongshang in advance of his teaching an environmental science course there next year, said Joshua McKeown, director of international education and programs.
The formal agreement is the third between SUNY Oswego and partner universities in China. Clemo and McKeown, who made the five-day trip with Ming-te Pan, an associate professor of history serving as cultural adviser and translator, hope for more.
For example, McKeown said, the college is negotiating its first master’s-level agreement with a Chinese university.
In September, President Deborah F. Stanley welcomed leaders of Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, also in Hangzhou, and signed a two-plus-two agreement to jointly deliver bachelor’s degrees to Chinese students in business administration, human resource management and marketing. Oswego previously signed a similar agreement with Nanjing University of Science and Technology.
“China is an extremely important country in the world today,” McKeown said. “It is the No. 1 sender of international students to the U.S. now. It is in the top five study-abroad destinations for U.S. students. It’s an economic and strategic power. So, I think rightly, SUNY Oswego decided to expand what we’re trying to do in China.”
The college has seven partner universities in China: one each in Beijing, Shanghai, Wenzhou and Nanjing and three in Hangzhou. McKeown said five of the Chinese institutions have sent delegations here in the past four years, as the Chinese place great value on reciprocal, harmonious, balanced and mutually effective relationships.
“It’s quite a lot of work, but it’s very important to our Chinese counterparts to have face-to-face, personal relationships,” he said. “It’s important to have paid a proper and appropriate-level visit to as many of our university partners as we could in a compact period of time.”
Other stops on the whirlwind trip were to commemorate signings or to advance discussions on other agreements, McKeown said.