Drake University has submitted an application to China’s Ministry of Education to create dual degrees with Qingdao University. If approved, two programs will begin in the fall of 2023.
Qingdao was interested in creating joint degrees in data analytics, biology and psychology, The Times-Delphic reported on Oct. 11.
“Once we have initial approval for the initial collaboration from the Ministry of Education, we look forward to pursuing additional opportunities, including other academic program faculties at Drake that have asked to participate, student exchanges, faculty exchanges, study abroad sites, research opportunities, etc.,” Drake Provost Sue Mattison said over email on Feb. 6.
Through a dual degree program, Qingdao students would be able to complete Drake and Qingdao’s requirements and receive degrees from both universities, Mattison said.
Mattison said that Drake submitted the three programs “with the understanding that we’ll recruit for this fall…for biology and data analytics, but not psychology.”
According to Chris Kliethermes, department chair for psychology, the psychology faculty and Drake haven’t agreed on a degree program. The Qingdao partnership has only “4+0” programs in its current form, “in which Drake-hired faculty teach our courses at Qingdao.” The psychology faculty don’t want to develop a “4+0” program, he said.
“But without three programs in the collaboration, it would shut down the entire opportunity for Drake,” Mattison said. “…So we didn’t want to lose the entire opportunity, and so this was the way that we were advised to move forward.”
Qingdao needed three degrees in the application to create a new college, Mattison said. Creating a new college is more prestigious than one dual degree program, “and they’re able to have additional support from the government to build facilities.”
Providing ‘financial stability during a time of challenges’
In its fifth year, the partnership is projected to bring in $1.5 million a year in revenue for Drake, Mattison said. This depends on a third degree joining by the third year of the partnership.
“So starting with two programs, it puts us a little bit in the red for the first year,” Mattison said.
Drake could also bring in further revenue through additional joint degrees, according to Mattison. Other Drake programs have connected with her or their deans to ask about being part of the partnership.
“We’ve seen this partnership opportunity as a gift to Drake in that it meets our mission, and provides financial stability to the institution during a time of challenges in all of higher education,” Mattison said over email.
In a Dec. 19 interview, Mattison said Qingdao has set a goal of 80 students per program each year in China. She said that in their third or fourth year, students will have the opportunity to come to Drake’s campus.
“So in the third and fourth year, maybe 10 to 20 students in each of the three programs would be coming to Drake,” she said.
Why psychology isn’t part of the partnership
The psychology faculty do not want to create a “4+0” program, Kliethermes said over email.
“We don’t believe the 4+0 or 3+1 programs are designed with the interests [of] our faculty and students in mind,” Kliethermes said. “We have several main issues with these programs, but most derive from the fact that faculty and students from across campus have not had a chance to weigh in on these programs through the normal sequence of programmatic development.”
The Times-Delphic shared some comments from Kliethermes with Mattison. She said over email that “we are not proposing a change to the curriculum that the faculty developed,” and that changing the curriculum would require a different process.
“I’ve consulted with governance all along the way, and we delayed submission of the proposal from August to January so that faculty would have sufficient time to weigh in on the process and ensure equivalence of degree requirements,” Mattison said. “…Throughout the fall semester, I met weekly with faculty from the three programs to answer questions and share updates.”
Kliethermes said the psychology faculty entered into discussions about the possibility of a “2+2” program with Provost Mattison, “in which Qingdao students would come to Drake for four semesters to complete the requirements for our Psychology B.S. degree.”
The faculty believe a “2+2” program “would be a good fit for our faculty and the students,” Kliethermes said. Some “issues/unknowns around faculty recruitment, retention and assessment” would be “lesser issues” in a “2+2” program, he said.
A 2+2 program isn’t being pursued due to how much it would cost in the short term, Kliethermes said.
“The 2+2 program would double the number of majors in the psychology program, and would require doubling the size of the psychology faculty, which was not feasible financially,” Mattison said.