After the spring 2019 semester, Loyola students will no longer be able to study abroad at The Beijing Center (TBC), officials said.
TBC seeks to provide education about China to people from other cultures and follows a Jesuit tradition, attracting students from Jesuit schools such as Loyola. The center has taken steps to become more independent in recent years, and this is part of the reason the partnership between the two ended, Loyola’s director of global initiatives Fraser Turner said.
“As the two partners have continued to develop, the educational infrastructure of [TBC] … the time was appropriate to support the TBC’s wishes for greater independence, allowing them to pursue different partner enrollments and engage new partners in a variety of ways,” Turner said.
This follows a change in the partnership between the two in 2016, when TBC took over recruitment of students and the admissions process, a responsibility which was previously Loyola’s, according to Turner. After this shift, Loyola served as an academic sponsor, meaning it oversaw some programs and administration. Turner said the students’ experiences abroad weren’t affected.
Jennifer Engel, Loyola’s executive director of international programs, said Loyola students will still have options to study abroad in China, but not at TBC.
The change will affect students applying for Loyola’s Ricci Scholarship program, in which students model the life of Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit priest who spent time in Rome and Beijing. Previously, students spent a semester conducting research at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center and continued their projects the following semester at TBC.
Following the split between TBC and Loyola, Ricci scholars will spend a semester at the Loyola Vietnam Center in Ho Chi Minh City instead of TBC, according to Turner.
Some students in the Ricci Scholarship program, such as history and global and international studies double major Jessica Xi, said they don’t understand this decision because Ricci wasn’t prominent in Vietnam.
“I think it’s a little silly, because the Ricci scholarship is specifically about the life of Matteo Ricci, and he did not go to Vietnam, but actually he went to Beijing, where he lived, died and [was] buried,” Xi, a 22-year-old senior, said.
But Turner said studying in Vietnam and Rome will still provide the type of experience the program intends to offer students.
“The basis for the Ricci scholarship has been one that allowed for an east-west cultural comparison and in moving from [TBC] to Vietnam, we still preserve that,” Turner said.
Engel said Loyola is now able to shift its focus to its popular programs in Vietnam and Rome without TBC as a partner.
“At this point, we’ve been focusing on our Vietnam Center and our Rome Center, and working with the staff on site to continue to expand the program options there so they’re accessible to a whole range of students,” Engel said.
While Engel said she hasn’t seen any student response to the shift, Sarah Stolte, a senior who studied at TBC last fall, said she was disappointed with the decision because she felt it was helpful to study at another Jesuit institution while abroad.
“I think it’s wrong to not allow students to pursue [TBC] as a Chinese program because … the types of students who specifically go there are students from Jesuit universities, in America and also in other countries as well,” Stolte, a 22-year-old accounting major, said.
Both Xi and Stolte said they were under the impression Loyola students would be able to study at TBC, it just wouldn’t be promoted in the same way it was before. Engel said this isn’t the case, study abroad options at TBC won’t be offered to Loyola students.
Simon Koo, executive director of The Beijing Center, couldn’t be reached for comment at the time of publication.