Otterbein University expects enrollment increases through its partnership with the Shanghai Printing and Publishing College (SPPC) in Shanghai, China. 

The program, referred to as the 3+2 program, allows SPPC students, who are at a low English proficiency level, to take three years of Otterbein-qualified classes in Shanghai and finish their education with two years at Otterbein. 

According to associate professor Jonathan Johnson, by fall of 2020, the university projects enrolling 38 new international students through the 3+2 program. While at Otterbein, students will be placed in a “sheltered learning environment” with art and English as a Second Language (ESL) faculty, although students are not restricted from taking classes outside the art and ESL departments. 

“We have relationships with different universities, and when SPPC stopped and said, ‘We want to be part of this’, we were very happy to accept them,” said Vice President for Enrollment Management Jefferson Blackburn-Smith. “It took a while to work this out, but it gave us other opportunities to think about a bridge program for international students that may be below our English-language standards.”

          

The 3+2 program was led by Dean of Arts and Sciences Paul Eisenstein and the art department in 2015. Last May, art department and ESL faculty traveled to Shanghai to begin teaching the first cycle of students enrolled in the 3+2 program. 

According to associate professor Amanda Kline, art faculty will continue to travel to Shanghai each summer to teach courses, and ESL faculty will teach students through online courses throughout the year in preparation of students’ residency at Otterbein.

Before making the decision to travel to the U.S., students in the 3+2 program have the option to opt out of coming. This could affect the university’s enrollment and budget projections, which are highly dependent on enrollment growth. 

          

Additionally, Johnson said there are still several questions regarding the feasibility of the program. In the past, the university has dealt with issues of residency and food availability for international students over holiday breaks. 

According to James Prysock, director for the office of social justice and activism, international students are typically provided host families to stay with over breaks. In cases where host families have not been available, students stay on campus without access to the university food service, Bon Appetit. Prysock said it hasn’t been decided whether students in the 3+2 program will have host families. 

“That would be a lot of new students we would have to pair up,” said Prysock. “If so, we would like to recruit more host families, so we would have a better ratio.”

Prysock also mentioned hiring international student mentors as an alternative to providing host families. 

An additional problem includes the timing of the campus center renovation project, which is likely to occur around the same time SPPC students would be living on campus. Prysock said he hopes the renovation will be completed before the students arrive. However, if the necessary funds haven’t been raised by January of 2019, the renovation will be pushed back to May of 2020. 

“As of now, I think we will be ready by the time the program happens,” said Prysock. “I’m really glad we’re having these discussions now. If they were to come today, we wouldn’t be ready, but by 2020, we will have the resources in place.”