UC-Davis new dorms lure students

Updated: 2013-10-25 07:37

By Chen Jia in San Francisco (China Daily USA)

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For Fiona Wang, a Chinese housewife who is researching California colleges for her high school daughter, UC-Davis ranks in her top three choices for a special reason — its fabulous dorms.

"I noticed this university in the news said it has upgraded its dorms to attract more foreign students," she told China Daily. "I take that as a safety and comfort promise for my only child.

"It might be a little bit of an exaggeration that they use words like luxury to describe student dorms, but I still appreciate the university's efforts to show us a tangible return on a hefty educational investment,"she said.

The current construction project Tercero North will provide about 1,200 beds at a construction cost of $88 million, Andy Fell, a UC-Davis spokesman, said." The project is set to open in the fall of 2014.

"We guarantee places in dorms to all first-year and transfer students, but they do not have to take it,"Fell said.

In order to get an edge in the stiff competition for international students nationwide, UC- Davis also recently upgraded the 16,000-square-foot Cuarto Dining Commons at a cost of $7.9 million, according to the Sacramento Bee.

It said the dining hall features "made-to-order items, ice cream from Gunther's creamery and even organic milk".

"If you are paying more, you absolutely want much better. Many Chinese parents have high expectations about living spaces for their children who are heading to US colleges at a younger age," said Zhang Meng, senior manager of a Beijing-based overseas study agency.

Zhang had told his staff to highlight local media's description of the new dorms for Chinese parents, such as "boast spacious study lounges with flat-screen TVs and rooms with large wardrobes"and "students also get multiple bathrooms on each floor for increased privacy, complete with seven-day custodial services".

Two years ago, the university Chancellor Linda Katehi announced an ambitious plan for luring out-of-state and foreign students to its campus.

As of fall 2012, UC-Davis had enrolled 309 international students among 5,208 freshmen and 279 international students among 2,888 transfer students, according to the university.

Though no separate statistics about the number of Chinese students are available, sources

said the building spree at UC-Davis is part of a push by US universities nationwide to compete for Chinese students from rich families in view of the nearly 200,000 Chinese students enrolled in American colleges in 2012.

"There's definitely competition,"Bob Morse, director of data research at US News & World Report, told the Sacramento Bee. "Schools are trying to attract international students who pay the full sticker price."

However, Fell argues that the Sacramento Bee story "created a misleading impression", because "UC-Davis welcomes students from China and around the world,"he said, "these new dorms are for all our students, both domestic and international. All our dorms are built and maintained to a similar high standard that is typical for US colleges."

Contact the writer at chenjia@chinadailyusa.com