Schwarzman Scholars (Chinese: 苏世民学者; Pinyin: Sūshìmín Xuézhě), is an international scholarship program founded by American financier Stephen A. Schwarzman, co-founder and chairman of the asset management firm Blackstone Group and Chair of President Donald Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum. The program launched in June 2016, upon the completion of Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University (THU), located in Beijing, China. The college was designed by Robert A.M. Stern, Dean of the Yale School of Architecture and hosts up to 200 scholars annually from the U.S., China and other countries around the world. Scholars study for a one-year master's degree at Tsinghua University.
Modeled on the Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University and the classical Chinese academies known as Shūyuàn (Schwarzman College is called Sūshìmín Shūyuàn in Chinese, translated directly as Schwarzman Academy), Schwarzman Scholars at Tsinghua University will compete with Yenching Academy at Peking University in China and other similar scholarship programs around the world.
Mission and History
Schwarzman Scholars was conceptualized in order to help future leaders better understand China, providing them with the firsthand knowledge and relationships necessary to foster collaboration and cooperation between nations. Steven Schwarzman believed it was necessary for future leaders to better understand China's history, culture, economy and motivations. By fostering greater cooperation between the East and West, he hopes to forge future geopolitical stability.
According to Schwarzman, in fall of 2010, the then-university president Gu Binglin asked if he would want to help the university with a concept for a "Global Scholars" program. At the time, Schwarzman was on the advisory board of Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management (SEM). A year later in 2011, a delegation from Tsinghua visited Schwarzman in New York where the concept was put on hold until the leadership at Tsinghua had changed (the term of the then-executive administration was ending) and the global financial crisis had receded (the fundraising environment would have recovered). Soon after in 2012, the newly installed Tsinghua president Chen Jining met with Schwarzman, who was now living in Paris. Schwarzman, who was interested in moving forward with the concept, put forth six special ideas that would "reduce friction" for the new program. First, the college would need its own physical facility. Second, the program would need to be immersive, including travel and field work across the country with professors. Third, the program would assign mentors to each of the scholars in their area of interest. Fourth, there had to be no cost to the scholars. Fifth, the program would only be one year instead of two or three years long. Sixth and last, the program would be taught in English. Schwarzman told Chen Jining, "If we do this, what I really want to do is construct a program that that has the same prestige as the Rhodes, because those are the students that I’m aiming for." Schwarzman also saw the program as a way to bridge the cultures of the world's current two largest powers, America and China. With 200 Scholars per year, Schwarzman envisions a powerful alumni network of 10 000 scholars within a half century and possibly even future heads of state and government.
A year later in spring of 2013, the program was announced in the Great Hall of the People, the seat of the National People's Congress, in Beijing, China. A fundraising campaign to raise 200 million USD from foreign sources, in addition to Schwarzman's 100 million dollar donation to the program, was also simultaneously launched. Shortly after in fall of 2013, Oxford University Rhodes House announced the launch of its own Second Century Campaign, led by a new founder McCall MacBain with a goal to increase their endowment from 100 million GBP (then 150 million USD) to at least 250 million GBP (then 375 million USD). A year later in spring of 2014, Peking University, Tsinghua University's chief rival, announced its own global scholarship program, Yenching Scholars at Yenching Academy. Shortly after in summer of 2014, Tsinghua University announced it had reached its original fundraising goal and that it would increase it to 350 million USD. In spring of 2014, when the program first launched its admissions process, Tsinghua Schwarzman had already raised 333 million USD for its endowment fund. Shortly after a third target of 400 million USD, to be reached by the following year, was announced. "The Rhodes scholarships and Schwarzman Scholars programs have similar endowments and fund-raising goals. Which one is ahead in any given week depends mainly on the exchange rate of the pound, which has weakened lately against the dollar." Meanwhile, it was also understood that Peking Yenching would be better funded through Chinese private donations and government grants, which set off competition to further grow the two programs' endowments. As a result of the increased competition among full-scholarship leadership programs, there has been marked growth in fundraising, with the endowments moving towards a half billion USD each.
In 2014, Schwarzman Scholars held four recruitment launch events in New York (at the Morgan Library & Museum), Singapore (introduced by National University of Singapore President Tan Chor Chuan), London (at the Tower Bridge, introduced by Oxford University Vice-Chancellor Andrew D. Hamilton), and Palo Alto in the San Francisco Bay Area (on the campus of Stanford University).
Schwarzman Scholars Admissions Director stated that the leadership program is looking to attract future leaders. "Schwarzman Scholars are risk takers. They're people who see how the world is changing and are willing to do something different to shape that change."
Program Design and Allocation
Schwarzman Scholars will study for a one-year Master’s Degree in Public Policy, International Relations, Economics & Business at Tsinghua University. Scholars will live in Beijing for a full year of study and cultural immersion, traveling the country, engaging with world leaders and developing a better understanding of China and its people through first hand experiences.
Approximately 45% of the participants will come from the U.S., 20% from China and 35% from the rest of the world. Students apply directly to the program and are not required to obtain a nomination from their university. The Institute of International Education in the U.S., which administers the Fulbright Scholarships, will initially be responsible for the international and American selection processes.
Schwarzman College (also Chinese: 苏世民书院, pinyin: Sūshìmín Shūyuàn) is the new residential college of Tsinghua University (THU) which will host Schwarzman Scholars. The college was designed by Robert A.M. Stern, former Dean of the Yale School of Architecture.
The inaugural cohort of 111 Scholars was announced on January 10, 2016, selected from a group of roughly 3,050 applicants. This makes it one of the most competitive fellowships in the world, with an acceptance rate comparable to the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships and much lower than programs at Stanford, Harvard, Oxford, and Northwestern. The founding class includes 5 graduates of Princeton, 5 students from Yale, and 6 alumni of Harvard.
- Schwarzman Scholars at Tsinghua University
- Yenching Academy of Peking University
- Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University
- Gates Scholarship at Cambridge University
- "Program". Schwarzman Scholars. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- "College". Schwarzman Scholars. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- Bradsher, Keith (20 April 2013). "$300 Million Scholarship for Study in China Signals a New Focus". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
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- "Schwarzman Scholars". Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- Schwarzman Scholars website
- Donald Markwell, 'The Rhodes Scholarships of China?', reprinted in "Instincts to lead": on leadership, peace, and education (2013)