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Universities in U.S. Midwest support Chinese students, scholars and faculty

(Xinhua)    09:11, September 21, 2020

CHICAGO, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- The University of Chicago (UChicago) has been working with international students, including those from China, to provide the support they need on visas and other issues, recognizing that students have a wide variety of circumstances and needs, according to a statement from the university.

"The University of Chicago is committed to welcoming and supporting scholars, students, and staff from all parts of the world," said Gerald McSwiggan, assistant director for Public Affairs at UChicago, in a statement sent to Xinhua recently.

Don Jordan, senior public relations representative at the University of Michigan (UM), also went into details on the supports his university is offering to Chinese students at this specific moment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He told Xinhua that there is a new initiative that "we are sponsoring with the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) Joint Institute" for newly admitted UM graduate students.

"For this semester (Fall 2020), select graduate students will be able to join the SJTU community, live with peers and connect with other new students and access SJTU campus resources such as residence halls, internet and recreational facilities," he said, adding that these students will take UM courses remotely and engage in special independent study experiences with Joint Institute and other SJTU faculty.

In another initiative in response to COVID-19 pandemic, UM and online learning platform Coursera are offering three popular online data science specializations to learners in China for one dollar a month. "The program's specializations included Python for Everybody, the most popular specialization on Coursera; Python 3 Programming; and Applied Data Science with Python. "

"Given our sizable Chinese population, we also conduct programming intended to support Chinese students specifically, including an orientation program for new Chinese students. We delivered the program in person in Beijing and Shanghai in 2019 and virtually in 2020," Jordan said.

The center also employs two full-time staff members who are native Chinese speakers to assist students, scholars, and academic departments. "Our university community includes a large number of Chinese students, and we've valued these relationships for many, many years," Jordan added.

In an open letter in support of Chinese students, scholars and faculty co-signed by UM President Mark S. Schlissel, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Susan M. Collins, Vice President for Research Rebecca Cunningham and Dean of Rackham Graduate School Mike Solomon on June 5, 2020, the university expressed its concerns about U.S. Government restricting entry to the United States for certain Chinese students and researchers and proposed federal legislation that would prohibit Chinese nationals from receiving visas to the United States for graduate or postgraduate studies in STEM fields.

"While we take seriously threats to national security and have worked to implement practices aimed at addressing foreign government interference, we oppose arbitrary restrictions on Chinese students who have been and continue to be valuable members of the UM community," the letter read. "These restrictions also limit our ability to attract top talent that contributes to our nation's health, security and economy."

"We support our Chinese students, researchers and faculty ... and strongly oppose efforts to place inappropriate limits on our international students, faculty and visitors," the letter stressed.

"Offering proposals, even for the purpose of taking a political stance, can have an adverse impact on our ability to create a welcoming community that attracts global talent to our university."

The UM enrolled its first Chinese students in 1892. According to U.S. College Factual 2019 statistics, as many as 398,041 Chinese students came to the United States to study at American colleges and universities in 2019, and UM was home to approximately 3,308 Chinese students.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Bianji)

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