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K-State Today

May 23, 2012

International exchange: New agreement bringing Chinese doctoral students, research to university

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Kansas State University is solidifying its presence across the ocean and around the globe with a new agreement with the China Scholarship Council.

Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz and Provost April Mason recently signed the agreement with China Scholarship Council Secretary General Jinghui Liu. The agreement allows up to 20 Chinese students to attend Kansas State University each year on a doctoral fellowship, during which time the council will provide funding to support the students' fees and living expenses.

The first group of Chinese doctoral students will begin in the fall 2013 semester, said Carol Shanklin, dean of the university's Graduate School.

"One of the targeted benchmarks for 2025 is increasing the number of doctoral graduates, and we have had some outstanding graduate students from China," Shanklin said. "We're looking to build relationships with top universities in China. This agreement is a way to build these partnerships and recruit some of our top students and future scientists in the world."

Each year, the council awards as many as 2,500 doctoral fellowships for Chinese students to study at top-tier universities around the world, making it a very competitive program. Only a handful of U.S. educational institutions have this doctoral agreement with the council, placing Kansas State University in the company of the University of California-Davis, Harvard University, Yale University, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Michigan.

The China Scholarship Council is a nonprofit organization associated with China's Ministry of Education. Part of the council's mission is supporting Chinese citizens as they study abroad to develop exchanges and cooperation with other countries. Under the agreement with Kansas State University, the council will cover the students' living expenses, travel costs and insurance for four years. In turn, the university will admit these students to a doctoral program and will appoint them to a graduate research assistant position with a stipend that covers the cost of tuition.

The doctoral fellowships focus on several specified academic areas. Kansas State University provides graduate education and expertise in the areas of energy, agriculture, natural resources, nanotechnology, life sciences, applied social science and humanities.

Jishu Shi, associate professor of anatomy and physiology, was instrumental in achieving the partnership and was the university's initial contact with the council. In 2010, Shi and Shanklin participated in the China Scholarship Council graduate fair and Shi also participated in the 2011 fair in Beijing. Shi and Ralph Richardson, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, are in the process of developing a similar agreement that will enable Chinese students to be fully supported in tuition and living expenses by the council as they enroll in doctor of veterinary medicine programs in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University and at five other U.S. universities.

"This agreement with the council would not have been possible without the strong leadership from Dean Shanklin and the enthusiastic support from preaward services and the office of international programs," said Shi, who also directs the U.S.-China Center for Animal Health. "Under the leadership from Dean Ralph Richardson and Associate Dean for Research Frank Blecha, we are working with the council to set up another agreement that will make Kansas State University the U.S. center for training Chinese educational and industry work forces in food safety, public health and animal health."

The university is now in the midst of recruiting, as Shanklin and graduate faculty talk with potential Chinese doctoral students about the numerous academic opportunities at Kansas State University.

"One part of our obligation is to help promote our opportunities at Kansas State University to those students so that they become familiar with the university and what our strengths are in these different areas," Shanklin said.

The agreement also paves the way for future academic possibilities and partnerships. Kansas students may be able to go to China to obtain graduate degrees or to study for three months to one year as part of the graduate degree at Kansas State University, Shanklin said. Additionally, there may be possibilities for Chinese doctoral students to come to the university for short-term fellowships to conduct research with faculty. The council also provides financial support to university faculty who are interested in teaching graduate courses in China.

"This agreement can enhance the visibility of our graduate program and lead to partnerships for research," Shanklin said. "It will increase the visibility of Kansas State University as a research institution with strong doctoral programs. It is another way of getting the university's name out there with recognition of the outstanding work of our graduate faculty."