Why Chinese students come to Minnesota

Thumbnail image for sabrina.jpg

I missed the annual Minnesota Chinese Students and Scholars Association New Year celebration, but MPR’s Jeff Thompson was there and captured this wonderful image of University of Minnesota junior Sabrina Han as she rehearsed a dance before the celebration at Coffman Union in Minneapolis this past Sunday.

A few days earlier I had a chance to chat with three U of M students from China, and on at least one front – language – it was a humbling experience. Their English is darn good, a lot better than my (non-existent) Chinese, due in part, they explained, to China’s policy of beginning English language instruction in elementary school.

You can hear more this afternoon during a new episode of Minnesota Sounds and Voices during All Things Considered about the U’s very long – 99 years – relationship with China. Nearly 10,000 Chinese students and scholars have attended the Minnesota land grant institution’s campuses.

This year there are nearly 3,800 Chinese students and scholars at Minnesota’s private and public colleges and universities. Many are top students, who scored well on their high-stakes college entrance exams in China, but found there’s no room at their preferred Chinese universities.

When they look at what’s available abroad they discover that non-resident college tuition, books, room and board costs here are many times more expensive than in China. Despite that, they attend U.S. schools because the U. S. higher education system, for all its problems, is still regarded as one of the best in the world.

My report looks at the experience of 93-year-old Yong Jiang. He attended the U more than 60 years ago, got his PhD in mechanical engineering and then returned to China where he was a top professor for 43 years.

The reasons for Minnesota’s long higher education relationship with China are many, including railroad magnate James J. Hill’s preoccupation with establishing closer ties, the strength of the state’s farming and industrial economy and much more.

Whatever the reason, Professor Jiang is delighted that his grand daughter returns to Minnesota this fall for grad school at Minnesota State University – Mankato. His daughter got her graduate degree at St. Cloud State University. That means three generations of Jiang’s family have higher ed connections to Minnesota.

Comments are closed.