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SUNY to Enroll 150 Sichuan Undergraduates

The State University of New York (SUNY) will enroll 150 undergraduates from southwest China's Sichuan Province this autumn as part of the university's effort to help the quake-hit province.

All of the 150 students have obtained their visa and will fly to New York on August 15, said SUNY program coordinator Lin Wei on Wednesday.

Twenty-two campuses of SUNY's 64-campus system are opening their doors for the next year to these Chinese undergraduate students from Sichuan Province.

The majority of these students come from 40 counties around Wenchuan, the epicenter of the quake, said Wei.

The students, primarily sophomores and juniors, will study for two semesters as full-time students at SUNY state-operated and community college campuses.

"When they return to China, these talented men and women from diverse Chinese ethnic groups will help re-build the local economy and infrastructure in the region impacted by the earthquake," according to a SUNY press release.

"We are pleased to welcome these students to our State University system and to ensure that there is no interruption in their college studies despite the tragic natural disaster," said New York Governor David Paterson, in a press release.

"SUNY will provide these students with valuable leadership training, which will help prepare them to return to China to assist with rebuilding efforts and the aftermath of the earthquake," he said. "SUNY's deep educational ties with China allow our state university campuses to play a global role - and to be at the forefront of international educational experiences."

"The State University of New York has a long and mutually productive relationship with a number of Chinese universities, particularly in Jiangsu Province," said Carl Hayden, chairman of the SUNY Board of Trustees.

The State University has undertaken a fundraising drive so this initiative will not result in any costs to New York State taxpayers, Lin noted.

At the highest levels of the Chinese government, Premier Wen Jiabao has personally endorsed the program, and State Councilor Liu Yandong and Minister of Education Zhou Ji, who holds a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo, helped shape the initiative to ensure the students are competent in English and otherwise prepared for the adventure of two semesters of US-based college education.

There currently are more than 2,316 Chinese students studying at SUNY schools - 42 percent of the overall Chinese student population in New York State. In addition, there are exchange agreements between 15 SUNY campuses and more than 30 Chinese universities.

SUNY is the largest comprehensive university system in the United States, educating more than 427,000 students in 7,669 degree and certificate programs on 64 campuses.

(Xinhua News Agency August 7, 2008)

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