Daily Collegian - UMassOnline begins work to expand program in Chinese continuing ed.

Daily Collegian - UMassOnline begins work to expand program in Chinese continuing ed.

By Katherine Neubert

University officials announced last week that UMassOnline may soon be available in China. The University of Massachusetts has begun working together with China’s Continuing Education Association (CCEA) and the CerEdu Corporation to make the award-winning distance education program accessible there. Under the agreement signed in Beijing, UMassOnline will be the first foreign provider of online education
and degree programs in China.

“We are very proud to have been chosen by our partners in China to enter into this agreement,” said University President Jack M. Wilson in a press release. “We have developed one of the best online education programs in the world, and that is increasingly being recognized around the globe.”

While the pact must still be approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education, plans call to offer credit and non-credit courses, certificate programs and degree programs from all five campuses – through online and face-to-face programs – throughout China, with UMassOnline.

Within a year, 40 UMassOnline courses, four certificate programs and one master’s degree program could be made available in China. UMassOnline provides the highest quality education offered by the UMass system in a flexible, online format, enabling students, professionals and lifelong learners to take courses anywhere or at anytime.

This agreement comes from the academic and research partnership that was formed in 2006 with the signing of a memorandum with Tsinghua University, which both CCEA and CerEdu Corporation are affiliated with. The University also has a close relationship with the Chinese Ministry of Education.

Final approval power over distance learning programs in China is controlled
by the Ministry of Education, which currently does not recognize the college credits or degree credentials earned in China via distance learning offerings from any foreign-based academic institution. Only 68 universities within China have been authorized by the Ministry to deliver online programs.

“This joint venture will position UMassOnline to receive the Ministry’s approval to provide online education and grant degrees throughout China,” said David Gray, CEO of UMassOnline. “With a population nearing 1.3 billion, the opportunity in China is enormous and we look forward to collaborating with both the CCEA and CerEdu to develop online learning programs of the highest
quality.”

“The importance of this strategic partnership cannot be overstated,” said Yan Jichang, vice chairman and general secretary of the CCEA. “Gaining support throughout all of China and from the Ministry of Education for UMassOnline, with the intention of encouraging, introducing, approving and sustaining high-quality
online courses from a leading university already well known to us, is important to the future of China’s place in the league of nations and the aspirations of our students to achieve world class academic credentials.”

Zhu Yidong, vice chairman of the Cernet Education Corporation said, “The combination of our powerful distance learning platform with UMassOnline’s Vista learning management system creates a ‘best of both worlds’ offering, in terms of technology and course quality, for recruiting, teaching and empowering students throughout the many regions of China and achieving the best possible
outcomes.”

“Within five years, with ministry approval protocol and UMass exclusive rights still in place, the parties to this agreement in my opinion will have gradually offered online courses of such high quality and breadth that we will have clearly demonstrated the efficacy of online instruction and will have paved the way for other foreign universities to enter the China market,” he said.

Date: 04/07/08

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