Preston’s university has forged a ground-breaking partnership with counterparts in China aimed at cementing its presence in the country.
The University of Central Lancashire has been working with Hebei University in Baoding, to set up the Hebei/UCLan School of Media, Communication and Creative Industries.
Housed in its own special building on one of the university’s many campuses, the school marks the first British partnership of this type in the Hebei province.
Although run jointly, with its own board of governors – from both UCLan and China – the facility will initially have non-independent status and be owned by Hebei.
However, the plan is that once the school reaches capacity, UCLan will take over.
The building has been designed inside to replicate, as far as possible, facilities at UCLan’s Preston campuses.
Academic programmes will initially be offered in conjunction with UCLan’s School of Art, Design and Performance and the School of Journalism and Media.
Student entry will be elite, with only the highest performing scholars enrolled at the school and they will have the chance to complete the full degree in China or split it between China and UCLan’s Preston Campus.
Students will graduate with both a UCLan degree and Hebei degree with UCLan delivering all of the first year courses and a third of the curriculum in the rest of the degree.
Initially, the school will have 800 students, recruiting 200 a year for the four-year duration of the programmes.
The intention is to grow to 1,600 students and then to expand further by developing a broader curriculum with a focus on science-related subjects.
UCLan has been working in China for more than 20 years but this is its first venture into Boading province, which has a population of around 77 million.
Graham Baldwin, UCLan’s deputy vice chancellor, has spent two works working on the plan, making scores of visits to China.
He said: “This is the most significant development for UCLan in China for over a decade and we are privileged to be one of the first UK universities to gain approval for a project of this nature under China’s new Ministry of Education policies.”
He added that Hebei is the leading university in the province with “a fantastic track record of academic excellence of their own.”
Dr Baldwin said: “It has taken less than 24 months from UCLan’s first visit to HBU to gaining official approval for the HBU/UCLan School – an astonishing achievement based largely on the concerted efforts of both institutions’ staff to build this relationship.
“This new international partnership model builds on our existing international programme which has seen the launch of our award-winning campus in Cyprus alongside plans to develop new markets in Mauritius.
“The increasing internationalisation of higher education will bring wonderful opportunities for UK students and international students alike and we are delighted to be playing our part in its continued growth.”
Once the programmes are running at full capacity, UCLan will be the third largest provider of British higher education in China and only the eighth in the UK to gain non-independent status.
UCLan also has over 3,000 students enrolled offshore, across a diverse range of countries including China, Greece, India, Mauritius, Singapore,the USA and the Middle East.