Thompson Rivers University officially marked its partnership to exchange information and research with the world’s biggest university, the Open University of China, on Friday.
The collaboration has been 2 1/2 years in the making. The two sides have already celebrated the partnership in China; Friday marked the Kamloops side of the official creation of the TRU-OUC Joint Research Centre.
While TRU has about 11,000 Open Learning students, the Beijing-based OUC has 3.8 million students throughout China, with satellite universities in various cities that, in turn, have their own satellites.
Those students don’t have is the ability to transfer their university credits to another institution. So if they attend another university, all their previous class credits are wiped out and they have to start from scratch.
TRU will be helping OUC work out how students can transfer some of those credits to other universities if they so desire.
OUC uses China’s radio and television university system to deliver programs.
TRU president Alan Shaver said Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) training is part of the collaboration between the two universities.
The partnership will mean a better understanding of Chinese students’ needs, he said.
The financial benefits will take a long time to develop, but it will also create new knowledge and understanding for TRU staff, he said.
“It’s mainly about academic and cultural benefits,” said Shaver.
Through a translator, Li Linshu, vice-president of OUC, said his university has already made a lot of progress with PLAR and the class credit bank that’s used to transfer credits between degree and non-degree education.
“We are looking forward to more research in the area of open education,” he said.
TRU’s associate vice-president international Wes Koczka said teacher training and academic quality assurance are expected to come out of the OUC partnership.
There are more international visitors on the agenda, with delegations from Columbia and Mexico on campus next week. Representatives from another Chinese university will also be at TRU next week, with a focus on international collaboration.
Gordon Tarzwell, vice-provost Open Learning division at TRU, said both sides can learn from each other.
Open Learning is one of the largest users of the B.C. credit transfer system for students, he said. So what TRU has learned can benefit OUC.