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UWA extends reach across the Pacific

The University of West Alabama is reaching out internationally to increase its worldwide “footprint,” and has begun a dual-degree program with a university in Guangzhou, China, that will benefit the UWA business program in many ways.

“We have an agreement with Guangdong University of Finance in Guangzhou,” said Dr. Ken Tucker, the dean of the UWA College of Business. “That agreement is a two-plus-two, dual-degree program. GDUF will recruit students at their university, and the students will start in a group of 50 –roughly half in accounting and half in finance. They will complete their first two years at Guangdong and then, assuming they meet all of our requirements successfully, they will transfer to UWA and complete their junior and senior years here. When they successfully complete their degree requirements, they will receive a degree from both universities.”

Tucker and a contingency from UWA visited Guangdong University of Finance in May and met the students taking part in the program.

“They are just finishing their freshman year there,” he said. “They have their sophomore year to go, so they will come to UWA in the Fall 2011 semester. The way it works out this time is: 23 accounting students, 10 male and 13 female, and 27 finance students, 11 male and 16 female. They are all student leaders. They are the top of their class and are very bright students. We are getting their best and brightest, and we are really looking forward to it.

“These agreements are part of a larger effort to internationalize our curriculum and our programs. We are actively trying to develop and expand our cooperative education programs internationally. We are concentrating on two spheres of influence: Asia and Central America. We have some agreements with universities in Mexico and Central America, but we are a little further along in the Asian sphere.”

Tucker said that, with this recent trip to China, a single-transfer, direct-entry agreement was signed allowing students from Guangdong to transfer to UWA after two years, earning a degree directly from UWA in any business area when they complete their degree requirements here.

“We also have reached agreement about an international CPA (certified public accountant) program,” Tucker said.

The contingency also visited the Dalian University of Technology in northeastern China, one of the top 30 universities in China.

“DUT would be equivalent to the Ivy League schools in the U.S.,” Tucker said. “They have many agreements with U.S. universities for graduate studies and research, but they have no agreements with undergraduate universities, except with UWA. We just signed an agreement with them, and we are the first and only university in the U.S. that has an undergraduate agreement with Dalian University.”

The 2-1/2-week trip also brought the UWA contingency to universities in Malaysia and Indonesia.

“All of those universities are interested in a cooperative education relationship with the University of West Alabama,” Tucker said. “Those universities are more interested in short-term student exchange agreements, as well as faculty exchange opportunities.”

The international programs will benefit UWA and its students in many ways.

“The purpose is to internationalize the curriculum, to increase our revenue stream for the university, and to increase the enrollment of the university,” Tucker said. “But, the main benefit is that it exposes our students to people from a different part of the world and a different culture.

“More and more, we understand that we truly operate in a global economy. Indeed, there are many businesses in Alabama and even in Marengo County that are doing more and more business with companies overseas. Our students will likely end up with a company that does some aspect of its business with overseas operations. This effort will help broaden our students’ horizons. It will expose them to different cultures and make them better prepared to interact successfully with different people from around the world, which is a critical part of the overall learning experience.”

The University of West Alabama’s expansion into international universities will help its students get a broader cultural learning and an understanding of how students from other countries live and learn. The possibilities are endless, and with UWA being the sole U.S. university with an undergraduate agreement at Dalian University, that will further promote UWA beyond our national borders.