February 8, 2011 – The Massachusetts International Academy, a Chinese government-sponsored college preparatory program that operates in Marlborough, hopes to complete a $200,000 expansion of its 25-acre campus this spring, officials with the organization said.
The MAIA opened in March 2009 with 40 Chinese students attending and has grown to 175 students this semester.
The facility at the former New England Conference Center on Locke Drive in Marlborough has limited outdoor recreational facilities, so school officials hope to add basketball and tennis courts, according to Daniel Xu, executive vice president of the academy.
But that’s just the beginning of the school’s growth plans.
Competitive admissions and not enough schooling options means more upper- and middle-class Chinese families are exploring sending their children to American colleges and universities, Xu said.
MAIA helps students make that transition from Chinese to American schools by offering English language courses for students that have already been accepted into the University of Massachusetts.
“We have a nice facility here that allows students to transition in a safe way in this completely new environment for them,” Xu said.
The 240,000-square-foot complex includes 240 dormitory rooms, an auditorium, a swimming pool, an exercise area and recreational rooms. The facility was formerly used as a conference center by Verizon, but it was vacant for two years until Cernet, the Beijing-based Chinese Education Research Network, purchased the building for $9.06 million in February 2009. Cernet owns Cermax, which is an American subsidiary that runs the academy.
While MAIA’s main affiliation is with UMass, the academy also has a partnership with Framingham State University, where commuter students board at MAIA, but they don’t take any classes or programs at the academy. Officials from the academy are in discussions with Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester to explore an affiliation.
This spring, college officials hope to complete the recreational area expansion that will add basketball and tennis courts to the property.
School officials have discussed building a $500,000 indoor recreational facility in the coming years to complement the outdoor recreational facilities that will be constructed this year.
There are even early discussions about opening up a second academy in Western Massachusetts to team up with UMass Amherst and other schools in the region.