URBANA -- The University of Illinois will open an office in China by the end of the year.
School officials said the Shanghai office is part of a plan to connect more with China. The school's Urbana-Champaign campus has one of the largest Chinese student populations in the U.S., has more than 20,000 alumni living in China and has academic partnerships with 65 Chinese institutions, The News-Gazette reported.
"Having a person there would certainly be very helpful in reaching out to our alumni and establishing contacts with the Chinese educational institutions, as well as industry and maybe even Chinese government connections," said UI engineering professor K. Jimmy Hsia.
Chancellor Phyllis Wise visited China last fall. She will host the opening ceremony for the office on Dec. 9.
Pradeep Khanna, associate chancellor for corporate international relations, said the school will hire between one and three employees for the office. An office budget hasn't been set but the campus will fund it, Khanna said.
UI has more than 4,500 students from China studying at the Urbana-Champaign campus this year. That's a 17 percent hike over last year.
The office announcement comes as more than 50 UI alumni plan to travel to Beijing and Shanghai next week. They will meet with alumni and visit companies and universities that partner with UI.
"We hope this visit helps underscore our commitment to international outreach and builds awareness of the international stature of the university," UI Alumni Association president and CEO Loren Taylor said in a statement.