On August 29, after more than five months of planning and preparing, the Rutgers Overseas Semester Experience (ROSE) program was launched into reality with orientation events for the 400 first-year Chinese students participating in the program. The ROSE Initiative, spearheaded by Rutgers Global in the wake of the travel restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 global pandemic, provides the opportunity for Rutgers first-year undergraduate students from China to study at partner universities in China for the fall semester, receiving both in-person and remote instruction. The ROSE program is taking place at Peking University in Beijing, East China Normal University in Shanghai, in partnership with CIEE (Council on International Education Exchange), and South China University of Technology in Guangzhou.
At each ROSE site, students enroll in an average of two on-campus in-person classes taught by both Chinese and U.S. faculty in China with other classes taught online by Rutgers professors in New Jersey. The program enables students to interact with classmates in China, as well as virtually in online recitation and study sessions with classmates in New Jersey and elsewhere, to create a unified and integrated experience. The students participating in the ROSE program are from the School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers Business School, the School of Engineering, the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, and the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.
At the orientation events held at each ROSE location, students and their families had the opportunity to participate in an in-person rather than virtual-only orientation, meeting new classmates and faculty, and learning about academic expectations as well as available resources for their first semester at Rutgers.
Kicking off the ROSE orientation was a video message for students from the Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Richard Edwards. A director was on-site at each orientation event, leading the activities and sessions and welcoming the new students into the Scarlet Knight community. Alumni and current students were also present at each event to speak to students about their own journeys at Rutgers and offer advice for how to get the most out of their Rutgers experience. In addition, there were online interactive events with staff members from Rutgers Global and Rutgers Career Exploration and Success for the students, providing information about how best to plan their four-year journey at Rutgers University. (Here are some photos from the orientation events.)
Students in the ROSE program are registered and enrolled as “regular” Rutgers University students. The coursework completed during the program will help ensure that these students make timely progress toward their degrees. In a sense, ROSE functions as a large study abroad ‘at home’ program at partner campuses in China for first-year undergraduate students.
When speaking about the ROSE program’s goals and objectives, Vice President for Global Affairs Eric Garfunkel noted: “Jeff Wang [Assistant Vice President for Global Affairs] and I conceived of the ROSE Initiative because we strongly believe that a hybrid on-campus plus distance educational experience is better for new students’ intellectual growth relative to a fully online first semester experience or a gap year. Direct student-professor and student-student interactions have many advantages in both personal and academic development. While other universities, including some with large pre-existing programs in China, offered different variants of programs to enable first-year Chinese students to begin their enrollment in international universities while staying in China, the ROSE Program is unique in that it was implemented within a matter of months at multiple locations and required little in the way of new infrastructure. The success of this initiative was facilitated by our extensive experience working in China and strong relationships with an array of partner institutions.”
ROSE Director Steven Henin added: “Over the past five months, the Rutgers Global--China Initiatives Office and many units around Rutgers have worked around the clock to transform the ROSE concept from an idea on paper into a reality.” He added, “Now, with the ROSE program fully launched, we are dedicated to continuing to work together with schools and departments within Rutgers, as well as faculty, staff and students to provide the best possible educational environment for our ROSE students until they are able to return to New Jersey in person.”
One parent at the orientation event in Beijing remarked that, for her first-year Rutgers student, “Rutgers made the impossible possible.”
In-person and online classes for the ROSE program started the same day as Rutgers in New Jersey, on September 1.
Yubo Su, who is participating in the ROSE program at South China University of Technology in Guangzhou commented: “From my point of view, the ROSE program is a fantastic solution for the challenge presented by COVID-19. Rutgers has great empathy for their freshman year students and want them to have an excellent impression of university life.”
“I am a SAS student of the class of 2024, and after two weeks of study, I already feel that Rutgers has attached great importance to their students,” says Peiqing Zhu, who is participating in the program in Shanghai at Eastern China Normal University. “Rutgers cares about the student both physically and psychologically. We have various activities, and in addition to studying, I have experienced a real college life here.”
Runqi Zheng, who is participating in the ROSE program at the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University in Beijing, noted: “All in all, life here is busy, colorful and good. All of us must have pictured college life, but few would dream one like this. Good as life here is, I sincerely hope it ends quickly, because that means the virus is gone.”