Kent State Stark becomes first regional campus to partner with international university

Alyse Rohloff

Kent State’s Stark campus will host 11 international students and one faculty member from Shenzhen Polytechnic in Shenzhen, China, during the fall semester, becoming the university’s first regional campus to partner with an international university.

The students, who are business English majors, will take 12 credit hours of English as a second language courses while learning about the American business model and American culture.

“Our mission for global studies and multicultural studies, we would like to make those two programs grow a little bit more,” said Aloysius Kasturiarachi, assistant dean of the Stark campus. “So this is a part of our mission and strategy plan, have more of a global presence…This program seems to be both.”

Discussions of the program began when a former college acquaintance of Bei Cai, associate professor of communication studies at the Stark campus, reached out to her about a partnership with Shenzhen Polytechnic.

“In China, when you want a partnership, it is critical you have strong relationship and people who are on the ground, who are committed to making this a success,” Cai said. “We really have the right connection, we have the right relationship. We have the people in the program and pushing for this kind of program.”

Stark’s administration faced an issue with finding housing for the Chinese students; since Stark is a regional campus, there are no on-campus residence halls. Campus officials created a contract with a nearby hotel to house students for the semester and provide them with transportation to campus, Kasturiarachi said.

“We’ve taken a non-residential campus, and we’re somehow making it so that these international students will be pretty comfortable when they come here,” Kasturiarachi said.

Stark plans to continue this program in future semesters. Cai said Shenzhen Polytechnic will begin recruiting students for the spring semester this August. Kent State Stark is also interested in sending Stark students to Shenzhen Polytechnic, Kasturiarachi said.

“I really hope that in the future, they become another location for our partner university students to study,” said Sarah Malcolm, director of international partnerships, marketing and communications for the Office of Global Education. “We have several students every year who want to come and study English, or they would like to come and study other things, but the cost of attending the Kent campus is just simply too high. So having another option that is a lower cost alternative but with a high quality education is an important part of doing it at the Stark campus.”

Cai said the university wants to get the international students involved in many different ways, from short day trips around Cleveland and Pittsburgh area to peer mentorship programs.

“I want them to see our classroom interaction. I want them to see how faculty and students interact,” said Cai. “For them to see how we are actually relating to each other, how we actually communicate to each other, that’s definitely a very valuable experience for them…So hopefully this is going to be two-way learning. They learn about us, and our students have a chance to learn about them because very, very seldom do we have an opportunity to be in interaction with people from foreign countries, especially at a regional campus like Stark.”

Contact Alyse Rohloff at [email protected].