Internationalising online programs/Concept projects/Group 5

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International Program -- Educational Collaboration Between US and Russia

Description of the activity

TOMSK University, located in Siberia, is developing a pilot program between Empire State College and TOMSK University to develop more well-rounded degrees for engineering students. Students lacked the business courses needed to be effectively recruited in the United States for employment. Empire State College is providing the business instruction to these students in an online, asynchronous format.

Benefits of the activity

TOMSK University students benefit from an international, western education, making themselves more marketable around the world and in their own country. Russian students and potential employers are attracted to the SUNY name. The benefit to the college is an expansion to international programs, tuition revenues, international collaboration and visibility for both the institution and the student. Adding an element of diversity to the student body and to the college's programs is an additional benefit. Empire State students are interacting with students in Siberia, bringing diversity and collaboration on the classroom level.

Challenges for the activity

While funding is present for the existing cohort, future funding remains a challenge. The language barrier has required the use of bilingual faculty and curriculum.

The distance between campuses naturally present some organizational and adminstrative challenges. For example, TOMSK University must have instructors with a presence on-site periodically.

Additional challenges include the cultural differences and the communication between the TOMSK students and the staff and faculty at Empire State, although these have not been insurmountable. TOMSK University has had challenges dealing with the Russian government and the speed with which the university had to spend its money for this project.

Success factors for the activity

Success factors include buy-in and ownership from both institutions. The program is free for TOMSK University students and recruitment of these students was successful. The students had to meet selection criteria to ensure their success in the program. The two institutions figured out the language barrier, utilizing bilingual faculty and bilingual course materials.

Matriculating students will obtain a dual degree from TOMSK and Empire State.

Each student at TOMSK has an academic advisor at Empire State College to help guide them through the process.

Empire State has in place an international student learning center, which provides a soft landing site for international students.

Organisational readiness factors

There was a readiness and willingness by both universities to try something new. Funding sources were identified, a selection process was created to determine if students could read and write in English, and a bilingual faculty was hired.

Exit and sustainability plans

Students enter the program as non-matriculating students, however the expectation is that they will enroll at Empire State to complete a business degree.

There is a consideration of implementing an ESL program to help the sustainability of the program.

Funding sources are identified for THIS cohort to see these students through the program.