Florida International University aims to start Sino-Latino Trade Academy in China
By Robert Grattan
Florida International University's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management has been such a success in Tianjin, China, that the university is looking at new ways to expand in the world's most populated country.
The university is in the process of developing another degree program in public administration, working with the Beacon Council and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce to create the Academy for Sino-Latino Trade, and discussing proposals to offer a program for a bachelor's degree in management information systems.
"With China becoming the dominant player in the world's economy," said Douglas Wartzok, provost and executive vice president at FIU, "it's becoming important to be in on the ground floor with them."
The university's Tianjin hospitality program graduated about 340 students last May.
The graduates began at China's Tianjin University of Commerce, FIU's partner university for the program, and applied to the hospitality management school after their sophomore year.
Chinese students have the option of traveling to the US for their senior year, Dr. Wartzok said.
The hospitality school has a strong reputation in China, he said, because of the program's nearly 100% job placement rate for its graduates and a partnership with Marriott International, a huge player in the hotel and tourism business.
"There's a surfeit of opportunity [for other programs], because we've been so successful with the hospitality," he added.
FIU is in the process of creating for China a master's in public administration program, similar to its hospitality management program.
"Students would take one-third of their courses at a Chinese university and then come to FIU for the remaining two-thirds of the master's program," Dr. Wartzok said.
Other academic programs are in the pipeline as well.
"We're in the process of sending off to them a proposal, based on a request by them, for a bachelor's of information systems degree," he said.
The program would allow for about 120 more Chinese students to transfer to the nearby Tianjin FIU campus after their second year.
"We would offer the same [international exchange] option," Dr. Wartzok said, "and maybe 10% of the students would take it and come to FIU and finish their program."
In addition to their academic programs, the university began working in July with Miami's Beacon Council, the county's public-private economic development arm, and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce to create the Academy for Sino-Latino Trade.
"This is going to be more in economic development than in terms of academic courses," Dr. Wartzok said. "Chinese firms that want to do business with Latin America, and Latin American firms that want to do business with China, FIU will sort of be the facilitator of those actions."
Plans for the academy and the roles that each organization is to play are still under development, Dr. Wartzok said.
"It doesn't have a physical presence…," he said, "[the academy] is a very broad framework. We're interested in developing on a project-by-project basis these ideas."
The growth has to be cautious, though, Dr. Wartzok noted.
"We're in an environment as a university where we don't have money to invest," he said. "These ideas have to be self-funding."
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