University of Auckland launches Learning Centres in China

The University of Auckland has launched two Learning Centres in collaboration with Southwest University (SWU) in Chongqing and Northeast Forestry University (NEFU) in Harbin. This will provide an alternative learning experience for its students unable to enter New Zealand because of current border restrictions.

University of Auckland students at Southwest University, China
University of Auckland students at Southwest University, China

The University has been providing on-line teaching for more than 1,000 Chinese students unable to reach New Zealand campuses when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

Currently, all students – including domestic – are completing Semester 1 study online. The University intends to reopen campuses for Semester 2. However, for the Chinese cohort, at this stage unable to resume their study in Aotearoa New Zealand, a new alternative has been provided.

The University of Auckland China Learning Centres will enable students in China to engage in a learning environment at a prestigious Chinese university campus for Semester 2 of 2020.

The University recognises that international students will be permitted to return to New Zealand when the Government determines it is safe to do so. In the meantime, University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Professor Dawn Freshwater said the learning centres in China will provide certainty to help students and their families in China plan for next steps.

“We are pleased to offer an alternative experience to our students in China who may prefer in-person learning support and the benefits that come from the social dynamics of learning in a group,” she said. 

Students will not pay additional costs for the on-campus experience and tutorial support and those who need to relocate to Chongqing or Harbin will receive some travel support. They will be enrolled in University of Auckland credits and pay normal tuition rates.

Courses in Science, Engineering, Arts, Education, and Economics will be delivered through online and recorded lectures while students will be able to work in a group setting with local tutors to facilitate their learning.

Brett Berquist, Director, International, said that previously the choice for offshore students in China while waiting for appropriate travel conditions to come to New Zealand were to defer to next year or study online. This third option provides a local group learning experience but with the same distinctive academic content from Auckland.

“This is possible because of the existing depth of our relationships with SWU and NEFU through the Chinese Ministry of Education approved joint programmes.

Professor John Hosking, Dean Faculty of Science has visited both universities and hosted visiting academics here – he is confident that University of Auckland students will be well looked after in a quality academic environment.

“Of course, we would rather see our students here on campus, but this option allows us to confidently carry on teaching these offshore students until the Government is able to make a decision about their safe return.”