An East Coast School In Central China: The University Of Massachusetts Moves Into Asia

Chinese college students looking for a window into American culture can find it at the University of Massachusetts without leaving home. UMassOnline, the school’s online education program, will offer classes throughout China. The university is working with China’s Continuing Education Association to bring courses from all five UMass campuses, for a total of 40 classes, four certificate programs, and even a master’s degree program.


The school has been working with China since 2006, when it signed a “memorandum of understanding” with Tsinghua University, an elite school in Beijing. Tsinghua is known for its engineering and applied sciences programs, and was for a time called the “MIT of China.” Engineering and management are big-time programs at UMass. It’s got a good reputation overall, too; the 2008 edition of America’s Best Colleges ranked UMass Amherst 96 in a list of the of the top 100 universities in the U.S.


The only problem might be China’s government: the Chinese Ministry of Education has final say over distance learning (i.e. online classes). College credits, certificates or degrees offered by foreign universities aren’t recognized as of now. Only 68 schools (out of more than 1,500) are even allowed to offer online courses.


UMass figures it’s a done deal, though. Analysts say the Continuing Education Association in China is connected to Tsinghua University, which has a “close relationship” with the Ministry of Education. Still, there’s no word on when the first classes will take place… or if Chinese college students will suddenly start cheering for the Minutemen in their Final Four showdown tonight.


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