Madison (WKOW) -- from WI State Government: Just returning as Head of Mission for the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) mission to China, Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton announced Wednesday the formal signing of a student exchange agreement between the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) and Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.
The agreement allows for the exchange of undergraduate students for semester and year-long programs of study beginning this year.
"There is perhaps no more important bilateral relationship in the world than that between the U.S.A. and China," said Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton. "This student exchange agreement will better prepare Wisconsin students to compete in today's global economy with first-hand knowledge of Chinese culture and China's emerging economy."
Tsinghua is widely known as China's top university.
Under the agreement signed by Lt. Governor Lawton, former UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley and Tsinghua University Vice President Xie Weihe, undergraduate UW-Madison students will spend a semester or academic year at Tsinghua University, taking classes taught primarily in English.
Students with Chinese language skills may take courses offered in the native language.
Courses taught in english are in the fields of business, engineering, and agriculture, and a few in the humanities and social sciences.
Chinese language and culture courses can be taken by all exchange students.
The exchange students will pay the same tuition as they would at their home university.
Tsinghua University students will be able to attend UW-Madison under the same terms.
"Our students must have the skills, attitudes, and knowledge to work in this age of globalization regardless of the careers they pursue or where they live." says Gilles Bousquet, Dean of the Division of International Studies at UW-Madison. "We aim to make China the number-one country destination for study abroad within the next five years."
While at Tsinghua University Lt. Governor Lawton also reached an agreement for UW-Madison and Tsinghua University to form an exploratory commission to create a Global Manufacturing Institute.
UW-Madison, the University of Warwick in England and Tsinghua University in China would partner in the project.
The objective of the Global Manufacturing Institute is to advance fundamental manufacturing research by coordinating international research and education projects involving sustainable manufacturing, digital manufacturing management, engineering and business management, manufacturing systems engineering, supply and logistics management.
"The Global Manufacturing Institute is designed to promote collaboration in research that will lead to innovation in our manufacturing sector and growth in advanced manufacturing jobs here in Wisconsin," said Lt. Governor Lawton. "Research sharing becomes essential to keeping Wisconsin at the fore of advanced and sustainable manufacturing. I encourage the exploratory commission to work swiftly to finalize the details for the Global Manufacturing Institute."
While in China, Lt. Governor Lawton also met with officials from Wisconsin's sister state, the Heilongjiang Province.
Lt. Governor Lawton met with Heilongjiang Province Director-General of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, Mr. Zhao Erli.
Their discussion led to an offer from the Heilongjiang Province to host a delegation of Wisconsin agriculture, dairy, animal husbandry experts to discuss best practices, dairy modernization and potential trade opportunities.
Lt. Governor Lawton toured the area of the Sichuan Province devastated by the earthquake with the Vice Mayor of the Mianyang Municipal People's Government, Wan Lian Po.
After touring the devastation she visited a middle school that teaches and houses nearly 3,000 displaced children, many of whom had parents, family members and teachers killed in the natural disaster.
Lt. Governor Lawton agreed to explore the potential for a student correspondence program.
The program will give Wisconsin students an opportunity to learn about the Chinese culture and help better prepare them to compete in the global economy.
Lt. Governor Lawton will be collaborating with ePals.com Global Community to facilitate the correspondence and will be of no charge to the participating schools.
The agreements were reached as a part of Lt. Governor Lawton's eight day National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) mission to China.
The mission was a part of NLGA Chair Lawton's focus on bringing jobs and economic development to the United States and building a stronger network of relationships to gird the growing export economy.
During the eight-day trip, Lt. Governor Lawton traveled to Beijing, Chengdu, Mianyang and Shanghai.
"As Chair of the National Lieutenant Governors Association, my leadership brings focus to building our export economies, bringing jobs and economic development to our states by deepening cultural understanding between countries, improving relations and expanding overseas trade," said Lt. Governor Lawton. "China is a rising economic and diplomatic power, of great strategic importance to the United States and to Wisconsin. The states will have a critical role to play as the U.S. China Strategic Economic Dialogue plays out with specific local implementation over the next ten years."
The NLGA mission was the first of its kind.
The lieutenant governors of Alabama, Connecticut, Kansas, Nevada, and Wisconsin participated in the mission.