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New partnership agreement to bring Chinese fashion students to UD

UD faculty members (from left) Belinda Orzada, Kelly Cobb and Huantian Cao visit Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology during a visit to China to partner with Donghua University.

The University of Delaware Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies has signed an agreement with a leading Chinese university to bring students to UD for their senior year and possible graduate study.

Donghua University in Shanghai has strong undergraduate and graduate textile and fashion programs that are the largest and most highly rated in China, said Huantian Cao, associate professor of fashion and apparel studies at UD, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees there when the institution was named China Textile University.

Cao’s continuing contacts with Donghua inspired the idea for UD’s initiative. He traveled to China this spring — with Belinda Orzada, professor and director of graduate studies, and Kelly Cobb, assistant professor, both of fashion and apparel studies — to sign the partnership agreement.

“Shanghai is trying to become a new global fashion center, joining the club with cities like Paris and New York, and a lot of companies have already moved there,” Cao said. “So there’s a lot of demand for college graduates who have an international perspective in fashion.”

Under the agreement, Donghua students will come to UD for their senior year and will be encouraged to continue in the department’s graduate program.

“We hope they will also stay for a master’s,” Orzada said. “We want to build our graduate program, and bringing potential graduate students here a year early will give them an edge.”

UD’s fashion and apparel program offers a focus on sustainability, which is also a growing area of interest for the industry, she said. With companies in China seeking employees who have international experience — and experience with U.S. culture — as well as knowledge of sustainable manufacturing processes, the UD degree is expected to be a significant advantage in the job market.

While UD students aren’t likely to study at Donghua, where classes are not taught in English, they will still benefit from the partnership, Cobb said, calling international students one of UD’s biggest assets. 

“Our visiting students embody our industry and can contextualize the global fashion industry for our domestic students, many of which have never left the East Coast of the U.S.,” she said. “Beyond making friends with amazingly cool, fashionably on-point, talented international peers, our domestic students have a real opportunity to develop intercultural competencies — a way of conducting business that is critical to doing good fashion business.”

UD’s graduate program in fashion and apparel studies already attracts international students, including many who have had some work experience since earning their undergraduate degrees, Orzada said.

“We like that mix, not just of international perspectives but of industry experience, for our students,” she said. “It gives us diversity in our classes that benefits everyone.”

The UD faculty members will spend this academic year maintaining contacts with faculty, advisers and students at Donghua to ensure that those who apply for the program have strong credentials. The first Chinese students are expected to enroll in fall 2016.

While in China, Cao, Orzada and Cobb also visited Suzhou University and the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology to give presentations about UD’s fashion programs and faculty research for possible future partnerships. 

Both schools, like Donghua, have programs in textiles and fashion, and students could broaden their knowledge through UD’s focus on design and merchandising, Orzada said.

“They have large programs, so there’s a lot of potential for students who are interested in studying in the U.S.,” she said.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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A new agreement will bring textile and fashion students from a leading Chinese university to UD for their senior year and possible graduate studies.

The Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies has signed an agreement with a leading Chinese university to bring students in its textile and fashion programs to UD for their senior year and possible graduate studies.

8/5/2015
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