Private Rhode Island college, Bryant University, opens business school in China for undergrads

A private Rhode Island university is giving Chinese students the chance to earn an American business degree without ever leaving China.

Bryant University has opened Bryant Zhuhai, a school in Zhuhai, in Guangdong province, China, in a partnership with the Beijing Institute of Technology's Zhuhai campus.

Bryant President Ronald Machtley said he knows of no other school that's working with a Chinese college so students can spend four years in China, earning an American undergraduate business degree in an English-speaking program.

The first class at Bryant Zhuhai is comprised of 160 Chinese students who got high scores on the Chinese college entrance exam.

Machtley envisions students from Bryant's main Smithfield, Rhode Island campus, as well as from other U.S. universities and other countries, studying there as early as next year to prepare for careers in the international business world.

Chinese students can study in the United States if they want to, but it's not a requirement.

Other schools have formal agreements in China where students study in the United States and in China, but Machtley said he knows that many hardworking Chinese students can't take part because their families can't afford the U.S. tuition rates.

That, in turn, deprives American students from ever meeting them and learning from them, he added.

"This gives some of best students in China the opportunity to get a U.S. degree without having to be in the United States," Machtley said.

Students will pay $13,000 annually — a rate approved by the Chinese government that's roughly one-third the cost of studying in Smithfield. As Bryant recruits faculty, the school's population will grow, Machtley added.

Bryant Zhuhai welcomes its first class at convocation Sept. 29. Machtley, who plans to attend, said he's thrilled the school is finally open. It took about six years to get permission from the Chinese government.

Bryant already sponsors seminars, events and trips to China and teaches Bryant students and local high school students about Chinese language and culture. Machtley said he felt strongly though, that Bryant needed to be in China with its own institution to be an educational leader.

"This was as exciting of a venture as I think any university could be involved in, and not easy either," he said.

New York University and Duke University have also partnered with Chinese universities to open schools in China recently, but their programs are not centered on business education.

Bryant Zhuhai is sharing the technology institute's existing facilities, while constructing a new building for classes on open land at the campus.