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Go Back to the List September 27, 2019
SIU Aviation Technologies, Chinese university embark on collaborative degree program

CARBONDALE, Ill. — A collaborative degree program between Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s aviation technologies program and Shenyang Aerospace University in China is expected to bring 60 additional international students to campus beginning in 2021. 

Chancellor John M. Dunn led an SIU delegation as the university and Shenyang Aerospace University (SAU) finalized the agreement. The pact includes a faculty exchange component that will begin next May. The university is in Shenyang, China, in northeast China.

Program will work as a ‘2+2’ degree program 

After attending SAU for their first two years of university coursework in China, students will attend SIU Carbondale for their final two years. After completing the 4-year curriculum jointly designed by aviation faculty from both institutions, students will receive degrees from both SIU and SAU. 

There are 67 freshman recruited into this year’s inaugural cohort, and the Chinese Ministry of Education has approved that number to grow to 120 students, said Andrew D. Carver, executive director of international affairs with SIU’s Center for International Education. 

As a part of the program, SIU is already hosting semester-long exchange students from SAU. However, program students who choose to seek the SIU Carbondale degree will arrive on campus every fall semester beginning in 2021, he said. 

Experience important for both students and faculty 

Provost and Vice Chancellor Meera Komarraju noted the agreement will bring Chinese students to SIU’s campus to study and allow faculty here to use their expertise and gain experience teaching in another country. 

“Such international collaborations reinforce our global presence and prepare our students to work effectively in a global economy upon graduation,” she said. 

The Sept. 17-21 trip gave SIU an opportunity to strengthen relationships with other partner universities in the region, Carver said. In addition to Dunn and Carver, other SIU delegation members were: 

Yi Lee, Center for International Education Global Partnerships Development Office, SIU Carbondale.
Marc Chang, Olive Branch International Education Services and an SIU Carbondale alumnus. 
Discussions began about two years ago 

Michael Burgener, chair and associate professor of aviation technologies, will be the first SIU faculty member to teach courses at SAU in May. Discussions that resulted in the agreement began about two years ago when Carver, Lee and Chang pitched the idea to SAU officials, Burgener said. 

“SAU boasts one of China’s top civil aviation programs, and that’s what initially prompted us to explore SAU as a potential partner for SIU’s nationally recognized aviation program,” Carver said. 

This is the aviation program’s first international “2+2” agreement. Developing these international relationships within aviation is important, Burgener said. 

“It increases international enrollment at the university and expands the reach of SIU Aviation. This will extend our reach from across the United States to across the globe,” he said. 

The 2019 Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook projects a robust demand for people seeking careers within the aviation industry over the next 20 years. Experts predict a need for 804,000 new civil aviation pilots, 769,000 new maintenance technicians and 914,000 new cabin crew for a worldwide fleet in commercial and business aviation and civil helicopter industries. 

Collaborative programs help establish long-term commitments 

The program is modeled after the successful joint program in accountancy between the College of Business and Northeast Normal University in China, Carver said. The joint accountancy program has already resulted in nearly 100 degree-seeking students studying on the Carbondale campus since 2016. 

According to Carver, developing collaborative degree programs in multiple disciplines and multiple countries around the world is becoming an increasingly important component of the Center for International Education’s daily work. 

Yi Lee, who leads the Global Partnership Development Office, said that “double degree programs are often the most complex international agreements to negotiate and can take years to develop, but they are often the most rewarding.”  

Carver said the programs are unique because they the partners establish a “long-term commitment” and ensure students recruited to SIU are academically well-prepared. 

“Such collaborative programs not only help SIU Carbondale to better internationalize the campus, they also are becoming an increasingly important component of our international student recruiting strategy,” he said.

   Preparing for flight -- SIU Carbondale Chancellor John Dunn, left, presents a commemorative propeller to Shenyang Aeronautics University President Sun Xiaoping commemorating the inauguration of the new collaborative degree program in aviation technologies. The pact will see up to 60 Chinese students complete their studies with SIU’s nationally recognized aviation program starting in fall 2021 and earn degrees from both programs, while SIU aviation faculty will teach classes in China beginning in May. (Photo provided)

welcome delegation
Signing an agreement -- SIU Carbondale Chancellor John Dunn, left, and Shenyang Aeronautics University President Sun Xiaoping, sign an agreement to begin a collaborative degree program in aviation technologies. The pact will see up to 60 Chinese students complete their studies with SIU’s nationally recognized aviation program starting in fall 2021 and earn degrees from both programs, while SIU aviation faculty will teach classes in China beginning in May.

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Written by Pete Rosenbery,
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