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China re-accredits University of Calgary

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A year after being removed by the Chinese government, the University of Calgary is once again on the country's list of accredited universities.

The school's removal, which would affect funding for Chinese international students looking to attend the U of C, was due to the university granting the Dalai Lama an honorary degree in September 2009.

Students' Union president Lauren Webber said the school's re-listing was vital to the U of C's Chinese student community.

"I think there's no reason that U of C shouldn't be recognized internationally," Webber said. "It would have been the students that suffered to have to come to Canada, spend so much money on their tuition and then come home and not have a legitimate degree."

After coming to office in the summer, U of C president Elizabeth Cannon traveled to China with then minister of advanced education and technology Doug Horner to meet with Chinese officials. Cannon said having the university accredited is important for Chinese students that might go back to their country and need their degree fully recognized within the Chinese system.

"I would not say that not being on the list of accredited universities means that students would necessarily not be able to get jobs," said Cannon. "Students were, even though we were not listed, able to receive financial support from the Chinese scholarship council.

She explained most students accessing this funding are graduate students looking to study outside of China.

Cannon said funding continued from that body while the school was delisted and that enrollment from China remained similar to other years. In 2010, the U of C had 116 graduate and 276 undergraduate students from China.

Webber said that without Cannon's work, the university would have remained unlisted by the Chinese government.

"It was hugely a part of Elizabeth Cannon's great relationship building, especially with the consulate general in Calgary," Webber said. "She had to do a lot of work."

Cannon said when she met with the Chinese vice-minister of education, the focus was on the future and looking to building new relationships between the country and the U of C.

"Universities are autonomous organizations and certainly part of our role is to have public debate and discussion on a wide range of topics," Cannon said. "We also need to ensure that communications and relationships are also respected when we look at our mandate and our responsibility around those dialogues."

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