FIU plans to open hospitality school in China
By Leslie Kraft
Florida International University expects to open a hospitality management school in the Chinese Province of Tianjin in 2006, initially enrolling 1,000 students.
The program is the first of this scope between the Chinese government and a foreign university, FIU and Chinese officials said.
FIU signed an agreement with the Tianjin University of Commerce to run the school, which will be built and financed by the province's government and carry the South Florida school's name, according to Denise Goldson Rau, director of development for the FIU School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. FIU will collect tuition but won't invest in the new facility.
Both FIU and the Chinese university will begin recruiting and training faculty for the school while its facilities - about 40 miles from Beijing - are under construction, said Joseph West, dean of the FIU hospitality school. Mr. West is now in China reviewing suggested locations for the school, said Ms. Rau.
"A group of business professors from China will earn their master's in hospitality management at FIU over the next two years and will then be hired as FIU faculty to teach at TUC starting in the fall of 2006," Mr. West said.
The agreement between the two schools has further ramifications, according to Chen Jian, undersecretary general for General Assembly to the United Nations and a member of the Chinese delegation that witnessed the Oct. 17 signing of the agreement.
"This cooperation is more than just the University of Tianjin and FIU, it is between the City of Tianjin and the State of Florida and a start-up point between China and the United States," he said. "I am fully confident that the cooperation between TUC and FIU will work very well in the widening of cooperation between China and the United States in the important areas of education and human exchange."
The agreement will create FIU's largest foreign program - bigger than its hospitality programs already operating in Jamaica and Switzerland.
As part of the Chinese program, the Tianjin campus will host exchange students and faculty from all FIU campuses. FIU's School of Tourism and Hospitality is based at the Biscayne Bay Campus, where 850 students from 50 states and 82 countries study.
The FIU hospitality program - ranked among the top five in the US - takes another step with the new campus.
"This opens up the classroom to a whole new set of experiences for students here and there," said Thomas Breslin, FIU vice president of research.
He said the timing of the new project is particularly good because China is on the verge of a tourism upswing.
A recent report from the World Travel and Tourism Council - a private organization that represents hotel and travel companies - predicts the number of tourists and business travelers visiting China will grow 22% a year beginning next year through 2013.
"We are going to be leaders," Mr. Breslin said, "in training thousands of professionals to fill the jobs that will be created by this phenomenon."