Hudnut visits China to establish American school for Chinese students

Chronicle Staff

President Thomas C. Hudnut visited China in June to gather information about establishing a school there which prepares Chinese students for American colleges.

Hudnut spent a week in the country, traveling with a businessman who splits his time between China and Los Angeles. The two met with government officials and toured high school campuses in Hong Kong, Beijing, Nanjing and Shanghai.

The businessman approached Hudnut about a year ago after he had received a contract from the Chinese government to build a new neighborhood in Shanghai which was to include a school. He wanted Hudnut to help him explore the possibility of making the school dedicated to sending its graduates to American colleges.

“For most Chinese students, there isn’t much choice for where they go [for higher education],” Hudnut said. “It’s an exam-driven system, and they get placed arbitrarily based on their performance on exams, and we would like to offer a choice for those who want to pursue their higher education elsewhere.”

Though the trip did not secure government approval to operate such a school for Chinese students, Hudnut will continue to pursue it, convinced that there is huge demand for one.

“There are literally hundreds of thousands of Chinese college students pursuing tertiary education in the English language,” he said. “I was told that there are 70,000 Chinese college and university students in the state of New South Wales alone, not to mention the country of Australia.”

In order to maintain ties with a school he visited in Beijing, Hudnut has invited the headmistress to visit in early November.

“We’ll see where this leads,” Hudnut said. “At the moment, it hasn’t led anyone anywhere. But perhaps we’ll get a cooperative arrangement with the top school in Beijing.”

For a Chinese school to send students to American colleges, there also has to be cooperation within the United States. Student visas from certain countries have been sharply restricted since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

“The obsession with 9/11 and bad people who got in here on student visas has obscured all the good that can be done through exposing students to our way of education and of life,” Hudnut said.