Mount Saint Vincent University has inked a deal with a Chinese college to offer a joint degree that will see Chinese students traveling to Nova Scotia, and Mount professors teaching in China. 

The four-year tourism degree program will be run out of Jinshan College in China for three years. Then in the fourth year, students will finish their training at MSVU. 

"While we're doing those three years in China, a significant number of courses have to be taught by Canadian faculty," said Michael Whalen, a business, tourism, and hospitality management professor at Mount Saint Vincent. 

'Considerable investment'

Whalen helped setup the joint degree program. 

"At full operation we'll actually teach in China each year 17 courses. We're looking at a considerable investment in time, faculty and resources to do this."     

Those courses will be taught online by Mount Saint Vincent professors for eight weeks. Those professors will then be expected to go to China and teach classes in person for a minimum of two weeks. 

"Part of their interest in this is having their students in front of a 'real Canadian professor'," said Whalen. 

"Learning how to learn in a Canadian classroom and a western classroom, listening to the language, being able to practice their own English, asking questions — these kinds of things."    

The Mount has permission from the Chinese government to recruit 100 students per year into the program which launches in September. 

Little program, big payoff

Whalen said the university hopes the new joint degree will strengthen its overall tourism program and attract new students. 

"We see this as a way of working in part to replace those Canadian students that aren't going to be there because of the demographic issues in Atlantic Canada and the fewer number of students graduating from our high schools."     

In the long term, the program could also help bolster tourism to the province as Chinese students arrive to study in Nova Scotia, said Whalen.  

"This is going to be a tremendous asset for us. These people will hopefully have been impressed by their stay here, by the quality of the tourism infrastructure that we have in the province and they'll be the ones running programs, running companies in China and think, 'oh yeah, why don't we send a plane load of tourists to Nova Scotia'."      

"I think there are huge spin offs here," said Whalen. 

With files from Information Morning