By Brian Maffly
The University of Utah is looking to establish its first branch campus since pulling out of Price 50 years ago. But it won’t be anywhere in Utah. It won’t even be in North America.
Utah’s flagship is exploring the feasibility of expanding to South Korea, where the government is building a major education hub outside Seoul.
Songdo Global University is taking shape on a seaside marsh near the Incheon International Airport, and the U. hopes eventually to enroll 1,000 students pursuing U. degrees on Korean soil.
“This is a field of dreams. ‘Build it and they will come.’ But it has to be world-class quality,” said U. education Dean Michael Hardman, now serving as interim senior vice president for academic affairs. If all goes according to plan, the project will not cost Utah taxpayers anything or consume any university finances. Student tuition and subsidies from the Korean government would cover expenses.
The South Koreans have been courting Utah since 2008 when construction of the Songdo campus began, and recently gave the U. $1 million to plan the proposed Asian Campus with the promise of a $1.5 million annual subsidy when it begins operating. Three other universities are involved, and South Korea eventually wants 10 schools participating, each responsible for 1,000 students. (The Salt Lake Tribune)