The University of Waikato has opened its doors to students at the new joint institute in Hangzhou, becoming the first New Zealand university to deliver full degree programmes in China.
China’s Ministry of Education formally approved the Institute in late 2016, and it was officially opened last month, with the first intake of 230 students now starting work on their qualifications. The partnership with Zhejiang University City College (ZUCC) is the result of nearly 20 years of work and investment by the University in China.
The new purpose-built institute is designed with New Zealand design principles, teaching approaches and standards in mind. Staffed by University of Waikato academics, it is delivering degrees in Finance, Computer Graphic Design and Design Media. The joint institute uses the most advanced learning technologies, and encourages social interaction, as well as making students feel like they are really part of the University of Waikato. An aspect of that unique experience comes from the University’s commitment to Māori, and the distinct cultural and historical perspective that brings with it.
The nearly 9,000m2 facility shows the Waikato region’s strong link with the environment and will also welcome exchange students from the University of Waikato’s Hamilton and Tauranga campuses. The model of transnational education is part of the University of Waikato’s international strategy.
The University of Waikato is the first New Zealand university to receive this kind of approval. Over the years, the relationship between ZUCC and the University of Waikato has evolved from student programmes and staff training, to the establishment of the Joint Institute. The relationship contributes to and enhances the China-New Zealand cultural and educational exchange.
The opening ceremony last month saw officials from China’s central and regional governments join New Zealand representatives in welcoming students and their families to the campus.
Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Alister Jones officiated, and talked students through their orientation. He was impressed with the quality and enthusiasm of the first group.
“This sets the foundation for an exciting future for our programmes in China. The facilities will support the delivery of modern, relevant and high quality teaching. This is not only a supportive learning environment but is also an excellent facility to teach at. It bodes well for the future and reflects the hard work staff from Hamilton and Hangzhou have carried out to get us to this important stage.”
Zhejiang University City College’s President Wu said during the opening that students should keep in mind the joint institute’s motto to link the Northern and the Southern hemispheres. She encouraged students to learn from both the East and the West, so they can become cross-cultural ambassadors.
Students also expressed the desire to have a global degree that embraced both cultures, and gave them a truly international qualification.
As well as potentially expanding the courses offered, the University of Waikato is looking to extend its partnership with ZUCC, and work with businesses in Hangzhou and further afield to develop internship opportunities. The University hopes to have approximately a thousand students enrolled at the joint institute by 2021.