Shoreline community College staff and delegates from the AACC/VELT/ CEAIE program shake hands on on April 26, 2010, the first day of a two-week visit. (More photos)
Representatives from four of China’s top technical-vocational colleges arrived at Shoreline Community College for a two-week exchange of ideas.
The colleges and representatives visiting from April 26-May 6 are:
The visit is part of an ongoing program sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) known as the Vocational Education Leadership Training Program (VELT). The program is intended as a training program for presidents and vice presidents at Chinese vocational and technical institutions of higher education. The program is financed by the Chinese government. It is carried out by the China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE), AACC and AACC member institutions.
The VELT program, developed as a result of AACC delegations to China in October 2007 and 2008, is taking place over a five-year period. This year, four separate groups of Chinese college administrators are in the U.S., hosted in different areas of the country. In turn, groups of U.S. administrators also visit China each year. The four other U.S. hosts this year are: Alamo Colleges and Houston Community Colleges in Texas, Miami Dade College –Medical Campus and Trident Technical College in South Carolina
“We’re honored to have you on our campus,” SCC President Lee Lambert told the Chinese college officials at the opening meeting, April 26, 2010. “Our hope is that this is just the beginning of a long friendship.”
Lambert opened by outlining the structure of Washington’s system of community and technical colleges, followed by details of Shoreline’s structure, student make-up and programs.
“Shoreline is known for its academic excellence,” Lambert said. “Many of our students transfer to the University of Washington and other colleges and universities across America.”
University transfer is one major difference between U.S. community colleges and the four visiting schools. Sihua Qi, President of Anhui Technical College of Mechanical and electrical Engineering, said there is no direct university transfer available for Chinese technical-vocational students. “Students may go on to a university, but they must pass the entrance exam,” Qi said through an interpreter.
If the Chinese equivalent of a high school student wishes to attend any college, they must take a national entrance exam known as the “gaokao.” Later, Qi said China now has a “pretty open policy” concerning student choice. “Students get five choices and they may apply throughout the country,” Qi said through the interpreter. “The rate of first-choice acceptance averages about 50 percent.”
Lambert also highlighted some of Shoreline’s professional-technical programs, including clean energy technology, manufacturing and automotive. “Our automotive technician training program is one of best in America if not the world,” Lambert said.
In following comments and presentations by the Chinese delegates, there were clear similarities between Shoreline and the Chinese schools.
Bing Lu, Vice President of Nanjing Institute of Industry Technology, said his school gets about 60 percent of its funding from government sources, about the same percentage as Shoreline. The rest of the money comes from student tuition and partnerships, Lu said.
Tuition can range from about 4,000 to not more than 6,000 yuan a year, or about $580-$875. China also has a significant system of scholarships, loans and waivers to help students. “In China we have this policy, we don’t like to leave anyone behind,” Lu said through the interpreter.
Working with business and industry is a central theme the Chinese colleges. President Qi said his school has string ties to the automotive industry, including a factory on the campus. “We provide the land and they provide the equipment,” Qi said. “Some of our students become their workers and some of their workers become our part-time teachers.”
All four of the schools have a manufacturing presence on campus. Beijing
Polytechnic College Vice President Haiming Feng said his school has three factories on campus. China has 1,215 technical-vocational colleges in the country. All four of the visiting schools are designated as national demonstration colleges of which there are only 100 in all of China.