HANGZHOU, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- This week, Gao Heyan, a freshman enrolled at Cornell University, chose not to go to his campus in the United States. Instead, he went to the International Campus of Zhejiang University in Haining, a small city about 130 km away from Shanghai. Gao will study and live on the campus as an exchange student for the fall semester.
"Considering the COVID-19 epidemic, I think I am very lucky to have the alternative to experience a different campus, otherwise I would have to study online courses alone at home," Gao said. "We will have more than 30 freshmen from Cornell entering Zhejiang University this fall."
Cornell University has launched a program called "study Away." Chinese students like Gao, who cannot return to campus in the United States, can apply to enter eight famous universities in China, including Tsinghua University, Peking University, and Zhejiang University, for online study.
As of Thursday, the International Campus of Zhejiang University had accepted more than 300 Chinese freshmen from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and Cornell University.
"We have had long-term cooperation and interaction with many American universities," said Wang Yufen, director of the office of student affairs at the International Campus of Zhejiang University. Wang said this group of Chinese students studying in the United States, who came to Zhejiang University, would enjoy the same kind of campus services as Zhejiang University students.
Zhejiang University also provides teachers and teaching assistants for these students to help with offline discussions, and offers general courses, such as modern Chinese history and cross-cultural exchanges.
"Haining Campus offers us a good environment, where I can go to the gym, swim, and play basketball with other schoolmates. The school also provides some offline courses, which could better prepare us for study in the United States," said Zou Jiaru, a freshman majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering at UIUC.
Some students, however, still have concerns because online courses are set according to American time. The courses are usually offered late at night or early in the morning in China.
Statistics show that in addition to UIUC and Cornell University, nearly 20 American universities, including Duke University, New York University, and Georgia Institute of Technology, also reached agreements with Chinese universities for them to accept Chinese students, who were meant to attend school in the United States.
According to official data, 177 F1 student visas were issued on the Chinese mainland from April to July this year, while 80,934 visas were issued in the same period in 2019.
"I will graduate soon and I originally planned to study in the United States. Now I have to pay close attention to the issuance of student visas by the U.S. government. I hope the situation will get better after the fall semester," said Tang Zhizhan, a senior student at ZJU-UIUC Institute, Zhejiang University. "If not, I will consider pursuing my studies in China."