by Xinhua writers Hu Tao and Xu Xiaoqing
SHANGHAI, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- Shanghai New York University (NYU Shanghai) was founded on Monday in the metropolitan in east China, showing the nation's dedication to bolstering the cultural and educational sectors.
Being China's first Sino-U.S. university operating as an independent legal entity, the institution will be jointly run by New York University and the Shanghai-based East China Normal University (ECNU).
"NYU Shanghai will be a 'melting pot' for cultivating innovative talents from China and the rest of the world," said Yu Lizhong, president of NYU Shanghai.
The campus, located in the Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone in Shanghai's Pudong New Area, is expected to welcome its first group of 300 undergraduates, including about 150 from the Chinese mainland, next fall, Yu said.
About 40 percent of its students and faculty will come from abroad.
NYU Shanghai is positioned as "a beneficial attempt in, and exploration of, building a high-level Chinese-foreign cooperative university," according to China's Ministry of Education.
"NYU Shanghai is a part of education reforms for China. She is also a child of both sides," said NYU President John Sexton earlier.
Maybe the construction would be a long-term one, but with the care and cultivation of both sides, it would be a top university in the world, Sexton said.
This university has ushered in a new era for China to open its door for youth to receive high-quality international education, said Xin Ping, a sociology professor in Shanghai University.
"Cultivating youth is of critical importance to a nation's future. And China has walked over 30 years to this step of opening up in higher education," Yu Lizhong said.
In the past three decades, China has sent over 2.2 million students to study abroad.
Deng Xiaoping, chief designer of China's reform and opening up, once said, "If one third of the overseas students come back, we can send more."
By the end of 2011, over 818,000 of them returned to the motherland.
"Now, China shows more open-mindedness and confidence by deepening the reform and accelerating opening up in education," said Xin.
The new university's syllabi and curricula follow examples set by world-leading universities and feature a well-rounded education, English lectures and courses with Chinese characteristics, according to Yu.
Moreover, it offers a liberal arts education, as all students will take courses in the humanities and social and natural sciences before choosing a major.
Upon graduation, students will receive degrees from New York University, and NYU Shanghai will grant each of them a graduation certificate and a degree.
China's future development must unswervingly depend on reform and opening up, said Chinese President Hu Jintao in July.
The country has issued the Outline of China's National Plan for Medium and Long-term Education Reform and Development, calling for the internationalization of tertiary education.
Educational insiders also expect NYU Shanghai to be a "test field" in China's higher education.
Different from all other Chinese universities, there will be no compulsory courses on ideology featuring Chinese socialism.
Yu hopes that overseas students will be enlightened and attracted by the specially designed Chinese-element curriculum modules, such as "China's social evolution and Chinese culture in global perspective."
In the four-year undergraduate course, students can choose to study for up to three semesters in NYU's "global network university" in its 15 opened campuses such as London and Abu Dhabi.
Its assessment of student applications will be based on students' performances on China's national college entrance examination and in an NYU-style student screening process.
The student-to-faculty ratio in the university will be eight to one, doubling the average seen in Chinese universities, according to Yu.
China is now the world's most important growth contributor. It needs the education equivalent to its status in the world economy, said Steve J. Kulich, director of the International Institute of Shanghai International Studies University.
A global education network is expected to enhance mutual recognition among youth with global perspectives by crossing cultural divides, he added.
Besides Chinese and American students, attention will also be paid to applicants from India and other countries for recruitment in the Shanghai campus, according to the NYU Shanghai.
"Compared to overseas study in the United States, it lowers the threshold for more young talents and moves forward the education equality," Yu said.
Annual tuition fees for each student from the Chinese mainland are set to be about 100,000 yuan (about 15,950 U.S. dollars), less than what most international students pay to attend many U.S. universities.
Tuition fees will be officially announced after being approved by the Shanghai municipal pricing authorities.
The university will accommodate an estimated 3,000 Chinese and international students.