A major new international learning centre opens its doors next month in the Fraser Valley community of Chilliwack, as part of a new initiative by the World Trade Organization.

The new World Trade University will have 10 academic centres around the world, where students from emerging economies will study international trade and finance— with Chilliwack as the global headquarters.

Chillwack Mayor Clint Hames says the international trade organization sees the Fraser Valley as a good fit for its students.

"They didn't want an urban setting because people were coming from nations who could be overwhelmed by an urban setting."

The site for the university is the former Canadian Forces base, which Hames says will eventually become home to a new campus of the University College of the Fraser Valley.

He says it's part of a shift of focus for his city, "moving from an agricultural community with deep roots with the military to being seen more and more as a university town."

About 600 students are expected to start at the university in September.