Faculty at Duke Business School Approve University's First Degree in China

October 26, 2011

Duke University's controversial campus in China received a vote of support Wednesday as the business-school faculty approved the first degree that would be offered there. The degree, a master's in management, still requires approval by the university's Academic Council and other university bodies. But the step is significant as the foreign campus, which is being built in Kunshan, China, has faced scrutiny from professors, who have asked if it could hurt Duke's finances and reputation.

Tuition for the course is expected to be roughly the same as Duke charges at home, which is $41,140. A survey commissioned by the university of Chinese students and parents raised concerns about whether they would pay full cost for a Duke course taught overseas—an issue that would affect the financial sustainability of the Kunshan outpost.

William Boulding, dean of Duke's Fuqua School of Business, said the university would like the tuition, which requires approval by Chinese authorities, to be close to the cost in Durham to signify that there is no difference in quality. He said that financial aid would likely be offered to Kunshan students and that ultimately the school needed to test the market in Asia to determine the appropriate amount to charge there.

The yearlong course will be split between North Carolina and Kunshan, which is about 37 miles west of Shanghai. In the survey, students said they would be more interested in a course if part of it was offered in the United States. Mr. Boulding said the mixing of students from the Kunshan and North Carolina campuses would benefit both by facilitating a broader discussion on international business issues.

Getting to the vote has been a contentious process for the business school. A previous vote on the Kunshan degree was postponed when some business-school professors were calling on the Duke administration to offer more details on the plans for the China campus.

The Fuqua dean at the time, Blair Sheppard, who had spearheaded the Kunshan project, left his post in August. According to the Duke administration, Mr. Sheppard "declined reappointment" for a second term to focus on fund raising and business development for the university in China. But others on Duke's campus privately say that Mr. Sheppard was asked to step down because of disagreements with the Fuqua faculty.