Kean University, which launched a new campus in China last year before seeking approval from its accrediting agency, has finally been given the go-ahead to proceed.
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education earlier this month gave the public university in Union Township provisional approval to operate the new campus in Wenzhou, China, pending a site visit by the agency, according to Richard Pokrass, a spokesman for the commission. The campus will be classified as an additional location of Kean.
University President Dawood Farahi said the school was delighted with the support of Middle States. “I look forward to sharing the experience and the opportunities with the site team chosen to travel to Wenzhou,” he said in a statement.
More than 200 Chinese students are currently enrolled in the Wenzhou-Kean pilot program and dozens of Kean University students and staff have traveled to China over the past year, officials said.
The university came under criticism last year when it was revealed that the Wenzhou campus had opened before the university filed a request for a so-called “substantive change” with Middle States.
The university at first insisted it did not need to file a change until the China program was more established and students were earning more than 50 percent of their credits toward a degree in Wenzhou. But earlier this year, Kean submitted the request to the commission, which approved it in early March.
Kean is one of several U.S. colleges offering programs in China, which promise students accredited U.S. degrees. The programs are potentially lucrative because of the huge demand by Chinese students for American education, although several universities have run into problems. In 2010, Centenary College, a small private college in Warren County, closed its satellite campuses in China and Taiwan and withheld degrees from its 400 local students after discovering rampant cheating.
The Kean campus in southeastern Zhejiang province is being financed by the Chinese government, university officials said. Under the complex partnership with the Chinese, the government has control of the campus through a board controlled by its own appointees, but Farahi said all academic decisions will be made by Kean. When completed, the campus will encompass more than 200 acres, accommodating 5,000 full-time students.