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   A Memorial University of Newfoundland Publication

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March 10, 2005
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Marketing to China


With more than 3,000 universities in China, why would Chinese students and professionals come all the way to St. John’s, Newfoundland to study engineering? It’s a result of Memorial’s expertise and programs, and a changing Chinese culture.

It all began two years when someone from Can-Zhong International visited Memorial University to discuss the possibility of promoting engineering master’s programs. The idea quickly took off and within a year, faculty from Engineering and Applied Science were on a plane headed to the other side of the world. By August 2004, 25 Chinese students had travelled around the globe to Memorial to take part in the new 18 month, master of applied science in computer engineering (MASCE) program.

Dr. Ramachandran Venkatesan, engineering professor and associate dean of undergraduate studies for the faculty, says the idea of coming to Canada for higher education seems to be popular in China.

“There is rapid growth of the engineering industry in China and the presence of huge multinational firms requiring highly educated personnel.”

The programs that are promoted are carefully chosen and, he adds, computer engineering appears to work because of companies like IBM, Motorola, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, HP, and others looking for people with leading-edge knowledge in addition to good English skills and international experience.

“The fact that the courses in these programs are not specially made up for Chinese cohorts as is the case in many other schools is welcome by prospective students and parents,” said Dr. Venkatesan. “The courses are the same courses that Canadian and other international graduate students in thesis programs take.”

MASCE student Wang Guan says the program is an excellent opportunity for him to advance his education at a first-rate institution. “There are definite advantages to studying and researching at Memorial compared to some universities in China. There are more Internet and library resources here, which help a lot.”

Dr. Venkatesan says another important reason marketing to China has been successful is related to culture and affordability. “Rapid growth of a high middle class in China is the new-found affluence. Students are funded solely by the career savings of their parents, sometimes supplemented by their own and/or relatives’ support because for nearly two generations, China has been following a one-child-per-couple policy. Thus parents are able to invest their life savings in their child’s education.”

For the last two weeks, engineering faculty have been on their third visit to China going to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shengzhou, and Chengdu targeting recent graduates and final year undergraduate students. As for future recruitment in China and possibly the Middle East, the faculty will be promoting programs such as the master’s in environmental systems engineering and management planned for this spring. And with the recent growth at Memorial of expertise and facilities in oil and gas, engineering professors hope marketing the master’s in oil and gas engineering planned for 2006 will be just as successful.