University of Waikato offers students degree overseas

University of Waikato Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Alister Jones (file photo).

University of Waikato Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Alister Jones (file photo).

Chinese students can now get a New Zealand university degree without stepping foot in the country. 

Waikato University is offering three undergraduate degrees at Zhejiang University City College (ZUCC) in Hangzhou - a city pipped as the innovation capital of China. 

It's the first time a New Zealand university has offered a full degree in another country. 

And although the first semester has just begun, it's near capacity, with 231 "high-quality" students taking 240 of the available spaces. 

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Earlier in the year, the university announced it wanted to cut jobs from the arts faculty.

The proposal prompted students to protest the cuts, but the proposal's author, Professor Allison Kirkman, said she hoped it would strengthen the humanities department.

The number of students enrolling in humanities had been static for years and, more recently, had been declining, Kirkman said.

The proposal is expected to be finalised this month, but one degree that was mentioned has already been axed.

The bachelor of media and creative technologies will no longer be offered to New Zealand students in 2018.

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It is, however, being offered to students in China. 

The university's deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Alister Jones, said there are too many options for students at Waikato University, whereas in China, the programme is quite structured.

The three degrees Chinese students can study are business analysis, communications and media technologies, and computer graphic design.

Apart from the financial gain from international student fees, Jones said staff will benefit from teaching in a multicultural environment.

"It creates opportunities for our staff to work with different groups and for research.

"There are a lot of IT companies, a lot of media companies, based in Hangzhou. The qualifications are designed to put graduates into jobs and there are opportunities for our New Zealand students to have internships in Hangzhou."

What they've tried to do in China is create a New Zealand university learning environment.

"So it has social learning spaces," Jones said.

"It has flexible-use spaces. It has a library, cafe and those kinds of things which you wouldn't normally expect to find in a Chinese university."

The institute is in a separate building on the ZUCC campus.

When the students move into years' two, three and four, Jones expects there will be between 12 and 14 full-time staff.

Some staff will be based there permanently, but there will also be staff from the Waikato campus who will fly in and teach. 

"We're delivering the New Zealand curriculum.

"Students do a foundation year and then do three years of our degree in China.

"It's the same set-up that our media technology group would have, so they've replicated those problem-based learning environments into the campus in China.

Jones said it was generally difficult to get permission to run these types of programmes in China, but the university's 15-year relationship with ZUCC paved the way. 

The university year at ZUCC runs from late September to early June. 

 - Stuff


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