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Universities serve as class act for N.J. as it builds its brand globally

Insiders say study abroad programs and overseas campuses help state cultivate relationships with developing nations, big importers

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The Rutgers in China Office cultivates relationships with universities in the East, which gives New Jersey a foothold abroad. Its director, Jeff Wang, says there has been a 600 percent increase in New Jersey exports to China since 2000.
The Rutgers in China Office cultivates relationships with universities in the East, which gives New Jersey a foothold abroad. Its director, Jeff Wang, says there has been a 600 percent increase in New Jersey exports to China since 2000. - (AARON HOUSTON)

Since 1965, Fairleigh Dickinson University has operated a satellite campus, Wroxton College, 70 miles outside of London, where students are immersed in English culture while continuing work on their degrees through FDU classes.

Through Wroxton, Fairleigh became the first U.S. university to own an overseas campus for students studying abroad. Now the school is five years into operating a complete degree-issuing campus at FDU-Vancouver, as well as being partner to a campus in Chengdu, China.

These locations not only open up the world to students based at FDU's two New Jersey campuses, in Madison and Teaneck, they also open up New Jersey to the world.

Tracye McDaniel, president and CEO of Choose New Jersey, the Garden State's recruitment arm, said the state's universities' different international outreach programs are "a perfect alignment for us."

"We work globally to attract companies to New Jersey, and having relationships with our industry, our academia and international countries is so important," McDaniel said. "Building those international extension campuses connects straight to that."

In addition to a heightened awareness of New Jersey's assets, McDaniel said building campuses outside the United States builds connective relationships that can "extend into business … and keep us more competitive."

McDaniel said Choose New Jersey is particularly interested in attracting multinational corporations, and academic outreach to developing economies is particularly important.

That's one of the reasons multiple universities are targeting China as a market for extending their educational models. Both educators and business leaders see the promise of establishing strong ties through academia with China.

Rutgers University has expanded relationships with three public universities in China, including a new initiative as of November at the South China University of Technology, in Guangzhou. There, courses offered by Rutgers University in business, science and political science are being consolidated into the Sino-America Innovation College, with its own facility.

SCUT students also can start their Rutgers degrees by studying for two years in China before finishing their degrees in New Jersey. Jeff (Jianfeng) Wang, director of the Rutgers in China Office, said these so-called "two and two" program's first graduates completed their studies, in environmental and biological science, last year.

Also focusing on China is Kean University. The Union County school announced in 2006 it would operate a Kean University campus in Wenzhou, in the Zhejiang province. A cohort of 204 Chinese students and 11 Kean students enrolled in a two-year pilot program this fall. Seven courses are currently being taught there, with three additional classes planned.

Once the Wenzhou campus is complete, in 2016, Kean will be the first U.S. university with a full campus in China, according to President Dawood Farahi.

Even schools that aren't building campuses abroad realize China is ignored at their own peril. Montclair State University president Susan Cole said the school is developing "intense, multilevel relationships" with institutions around the globe. The school is using technology to create joint classes, programs and degrees, giving an international flavor to education for students who would find studying abroad cost prohibitive.

These developments are starting to show results in the business world.

Farahi said, when a delegation of leaders from Wenzhou came to Trenton to meet with Gov. Chris Christie and other state leaders, "they got the impression that if there's a place you want to do business as a Chinese business, this is the place to come."

E-mail to: melindac@njbiz.com
On Twitter: @mcaliendo33

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