UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMB Recruits Hundreds of Chinese Exhange Students

Yewei Liu is one of the many Chinese students to find UMB through CERNET.

How is it that so many international students have found their way to UMass Boston? One reason is because, since 2002, UMass Boston has joined with China Education and Research Network (CERNET) to recruit Chinese students to study here.

CERNET, managed by China’s Ministry of Education, was developed and operated by Beijing’s Tsinghua University to provide improved research and database technology to institutions of higher education. It branched out into student recruitment by the relationships it had built through their technological work.

The strong yuan and increased number of middle-class Chinese families capable of paying U.S. tuition, combined with the large number of students in China looking for a quality education, have fuelled the thriving partnership between CERNET and UMass Boston.

Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Kathleen Teehan explained that Tsinghua is an institution teaching English as a Second Language, and helps send students seeking an overseas education to UMass Boston. Of the 600 Chinese students currently on campus, a majority of them are recruited through CERNET, and the university expects to recruit 100 to 250 more new Chinese students a year through the connection.

Teehan explained UMass Boston’s interest in recruiting Chinese students. “It is a burgeoning market that we felt we could take advantage of,” she said. “At the time that the UMass Boston was looking to grow its international student community, we had about 30 faculty members from China on campus. We drew a lot of advice and inspiration from them to as to how we should do this, where the opportunities were, and made some connections through them.”

As to why intermediary companies are needed in recruitment, Teehan explained, “The Chinese market can be a very confusing market. There are many companies offering the same sort of services to students that CERNET [does], but it is difficult to provide quality control. It is hard to know whether these agencies are representing the university properly, or providing students with the accurate information about what awaits them in the U.S., or what UMass Boston has to offer them. So these primary partnerships with CERNET and Tsinghua give us confidence that the university is being properly represented.”

CERNET owns the Massachusetts International Academy in Marlborough, Mass., its faculty provided by UMass Boston’s University College. The students take English courses for up to one year, during which time they are technically UMass Boston students. Upon certification of English proficiency, they receive full admission to the university.

Finance major Yewei Liu came to UMass Boston through the CERNET program in 2009, and spoke at a conference on April 9 about her experience. She explained that gaining entrance to a prestigious university in China depends entirely upon a high score on an entrance examinations test, without consideration given to the student’s past academic performance. Liu “wanted to go to the best school possible,” and CERNET helped her find UMass Boston.

Liu briefly described her time at the Massachusetts International Academy. “I practiced speaking English with other Chinese students, and ate Chinese food. My advisor helped with the transition of having my parents so far away,” she said.

UMass Boston and CERNET both benefit financially from the relationship. The students who enroll at the Massachusetts International Academy pay approximately $35,000 for a full year of study. When they enroll at UMass Boston, they pay the international student fee rate here. This has become more lucrative for the university due to a recent change in the law that allows the university to retain those fees within its own budget.

According to Teehan, the students who come through CERNET benefit from the same confidence in representation that the university does. “Just as the university can have confidence in CERNET, the families and students can have confidence as well, that they have a partnership with UMass Boston,” she said. “They are not just finding some school that may not be right for a student, or that they may feel no connection to, or [not] understand. They know CERNET has provided a clear pathway to an education.”

About the Contributor
Jacob Aguiar served as the following positions for The Mass media the following years: News Editor: 2011-2012; Fall 2012 Leisure Editor: 2010-2011