TTU partners with Chinese university to enhance international education

Posted by Lori Shull - Thursday, August 23 2012
lshull@tntech.edu

thumb sgnatureIn the past three years, Tennessee Tech University’s international student enrollment has increased 60 percent, from 500 to nearly 800 students.

That number is due to grow even more in coming years because of a recent agreement with Lanzhou University of Technology in central China.

The agreement allows Chinese engineering students to get a TTU degree. They will study at LUT for their first two years and come to Cookeville for the final two to complete their studies.

“LUT is a very strong technical school, particularly in engineering,” said X. Sharon Huo, TTU’s interim associate provost and a professor of civil and environmental engineering. “This 2+2 program will provide opportunities for our students to interact with international students and help promote the understanding of global concepts and cultures. We do have some international students, but we want more diversity.”

Though some LUT students may be able to come to Tennessee Tech in the fall of 2013, the program will not officially begin here until the fall of 2014. The Chinese university has to open special classes for the students who want to participate in the program.

“In general, the Chinese engineering students will have good preparation in math and the basic sciences,” said Huo. “They will lack the humanities and social science classes. They will come over and take those classes and American history and the rest of the engineering requirements.”

Huo and Charles Wilkerson, TTU’s director of international education, went to LUT earlier this year to complete an agreement with LUT officials. Through the agreement, TTU professors could be invited to go to China as guest professors. Because Chinese universities are eager to have classes taught in English, according to Huo, language will not be a problem.

Huo said she hopes TTU students will have the chance to go east as well to learn Chinese and to prepare themselves to join a global workforce.

“It’s a global market. Look at who moved into Tennessee in the past few years. It’s the Japanese companies, the Chinese companies and the German companies,” said Wilkerson, who is working to bring more international students from Turkey, Russia, Indonesia, Germany and India, among others, to TTU. “It’s to the advantage of our local students if they are friends with international students or if they’ve had an experience with international students.”