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WholeRen launches “student villages” in China

WholeRen Education, together with two partners, is planning to open student villages in China in a bid to help institutions across the US retain students enrolled or hoping to enrol in the future.

The student villages on 3-5 star resorts aim to improve academic results for students undertaking self learning. Photo: pexels

Support the villages will offer include group learning, extracurricular activities, visa assistance and enhanced internet access

Working with China Tourism Group and CITIC Tourism Group, the Pittsburgh-based education specialist catering to Chinese students is hoping to open locations in several Chinese cities where students will be able to continue their remote online courses.

“Chinese students actually have country-specific disadvantages due to timezone and limited internet access”

The idea is to mitigate challenges students in China are currently facing such as poor academic results of self-learning and problems with online, home-based learning, limited internet and school resource access and difficulties created by learning across time zones.

Villages dedicated to US schools will seek to maintain student retention and tuition revenue at a time when US visa and travel restrictions and coronavirus continues to cause difficulties.

Onsite support at locations in Haikou – Hainan Province, Ningbo – Zhejiang Province, Suzhou – Jiangsu Province and Beijing include additional staff, group learning, dual teaching, extracurricular activities and visa assistance.

There are “obvious possibilities” at the student villages, such as group discussions, teaching assistant hours, enhanced internet for better delivery, Andrew H. Chen chief learning officer at WholeRen Education said.

“The current plan is to host the students in the student village until they go back to the US in the spring semester,” he noted.

“Compared to the exchange semester option, or staying-at-home option, this option gives the schools much more control, enhanced learning results, and better financial outcome due to retention,” Chen explained. “The students and parents will also prefer more school-led interactions.”

Students in China are more liable to have issues with synchronous study options and internet access, he continued.

“As compared to other students who can only take classes remotely in other parts of the world, Chinese students have country-specific disadvantages due to timezone and limited internet access,” he suggested.

The facilities at resort locations in Hainan expect a minimum of 500 students to open, and developers are currently in discussions with potential partner institutions.

Two financial model options have been proposed – paid by students with the cost comparable to their I-20 living expenses if they were in the US – and the other co-funded by the school and the student.

“As long as the school incorporates this option into their fall semester Chinese student plan, it will benefit the school financially due to enhanced retention,” Chen added.

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