The University of Arizona (UA) recently received accreditation for its dual law degree program with the Ocean University of China (OUC), making it the first US-China joint law offering to students studying in the Chinese mainland. Students completing the program will receive a Bachelor of Law degree (LLB) at the OUC and a Bachelor of Arts in Law from UA, after being taught similar classes as those students studying in the US. This extends the precedent set by UA in 2014, when it instituted the first LLB degree in the US, enabling students to study law immediately upon entering college. The joint program with OUC had 77 students enrolled in the inaugural class in fall 2015, taught entirely in China but with the opportunity to study abroad at UA’s Tucson Campus. In a press release, Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, Andrew Comrie, cited the growing role of China in the global economy as an imperative of this program to produce a new generation of competent, bilingual lawyers to navigate American-Chinese relations.
This collaboration joins an increasing number of US universities establishing satellite campuses and official partnerships with Chinese universities. Other institutions, such as the Julliard School, Duke University, and Vermont Law School, have set up programs in China, with the latter recently launching a new collaboration with Yunnan University on environmental and energy law. Arizona State University also offers dual degree programs with a number of Chinese institutions where students gain an American and Chinese degree. China isn’t the only Asian country where US universities have a growing presence, as with the State University of New York, the University of Utah, and others run degree programs at a shared campus in South Korea, offering multiple courses in applied sciences, engineering, and more.
China has become an increasingly attractive partner for American universities, with the number of higher education institutions doubling in the past decade to over 2,400. Demand for American education in China is high, illustrated by the fact that in the 2014/15 academic year, China remained the top country of origin for international students studying in the US with over 300,000 students, a growth of 11% over the year before.
Edward Chang is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a student at the University of Sydney.