Abney and Vice President for University Affairs Dr. Marcus Jones visited Beihang University to meet with officials and discuss the logistics of an agreement in which Chinese students could enroll in a combination of on-line and traditional classes offered at Northwestern State. Abney and Jones toured the Chinese university and discussed dual enrollment opportunities, student/faculty exchanges and ways Northwestern State’s course offerings could support the academic pursuits of the international students.
“This agreement initially grew out of the Chinese University’s interest in finding a University which was near a flight school or which had a flight school. China only recently expanded beyond commercial and military aviation, so there is a need for individuals to train pilots for small plane aviation,” Abney said. “They are also very interested in their students having a Western education experience.”
Meanwhile, the City of Natchitoches is proceeding with a plan to lease the Natchitoches Regional Airport hangar formerly occupied by Northwestern State’s discontinued aviation program to Monarch Air, a flight company based in Addison, Texas. Some of the Chinese students will take flight training classes through Monarch while pursuing academic coursework at Northwestern State. Others will come to Northwestern for an exchange experience unrelated to flight training.
Beihang is regarded as one of the best engineering universities in China and is influential in China's aeronautical and astronautical industry though the University offers many non-aviation related degrees. Beihang has an extensive Creative and Performing Arts facility and program. Abney said the agreement could draw 30-50 Chinese students every three months to Natchitoches for flight training and as many as 500 students who could enroll in a combination of traditional and on-line classes at Northwestern State. Abney said courses in engineering technology, English, criminal justice and business would appeal to the international students and their presence would be a boost for the university.
“We will encourage faculty to explore ways in which they can work collaboratively and creatively with our Chinese colleagues and with our new student population. We are excited about this opportunity to expand our current students’ contact with another culture also,” Abney said.