A unique foreign exchange program at Poly is showing that exposure to America can also be a formula for academic success.
The Dual Degree Program, led by Associate Provost Harold Sjursen, encourages academic and cultural exchanges between the University and emerging nations by having international students spend half of their undergraduate life at Poly. Originally known as the 1-2-1 program, it has grown exponentially since its inception in 2005: the four students enrolled that year were joined by 10 more last year. Fifteen more are scheduled to enroll this coming September.
Students accepted to the program spend their first year at their home university, their second and third years at Polytechnic, and their fourth and final year again at their home university. Upon successful completion of the program, students receive degrees from both Poly and their home university.
Once admitted, students immerse themselves in American culture by taking second semester English and participating in a twice-weekly course development workshop taught by Poly ESL Instructor Allan Goldstein. The workshop considers issues such as cultural differences and communications skills.
Of the 14 international students enrolled in the program, four were awarded Poly Summer Intern Research Grants. Several have been on the Dean’s List since their arrival. One student won a Myron M. Rosenthal Merit Award and another was invited to present research he conducted under Prof. Masoud Ghandehari to an academic conference in China.
“This program allows foreign students to experience American culture and to earn an American degree with ABET accreditation,” said Sjursen. “As the program becomes better known, more international students will be encouraged to come here.”
The idea for such a program began with a cooperative degree Poly undertook with Sichuan Normal University in 2003. The idea was then expanded to other universities in China to include meaningful educational and research collaborations.
The schools currently involved with the program are National Central University in Jhongli, Taiwan; South China University of Technology in Guangzhou, China; and South West Jiao Tong University in Chengdu, China.
Sjursen is working to expand the program to include other Chinese universities, as well as ones in Estonia and Lithuania.