UW-Eau Claire a state and national leader in international studiesNovember 19, 2012
EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire continues to be a leader in sending students abroad and in attracting international students to its campus, according to two reports released this month.
"Through its international programs, UW-Eau Claire is working to bring the world to our students and our students to the world," said Interim Chancellor Gilles Bousquet. "Both sending students abroad and bringing international students here are important parts of internationalizing our campus and ensuring our graduates have the global competencies they need to succeed in today's interconnected world."
UW-Eau Claire sends more students abroad for midlength study-abroad experiences than any other master's-level university in Wisconsin, according to the 2012 Open Doors Report of the Institute for International Education.
With 289 students participating in midlength study abroad programs in 2010-11 (the academic year data used in the 2012 report), UW-Eau Claire ranks ninth nationally among all master's-level schools in the number of students who participate in quarterlong or semesterlong study-abroad programs, according to the Open Doors Report. UW-Eau Claire is the only Wisconsin school — public or private — included on the top-20 list of master's-level schools that send students on midlength programs.
The Open Doors Report also ranks UW-Eau Claire 30th nationally among all master's-level schools in overall numbers of students who study abroad, with 448 students studying abroad during the 2010-11 academic year. UW-Eau Claire was the only Wisconsin institution on the top-40 list of master's institutions that send students abroad.
"UW-Eau Claire students recognize that the world's economies, politics and cultures are increasingly globalized," said Dr. Karl Markgraf, director of UW-Eau Claire's Center for International Education. "They understand that they need to be globally aware and comfortable in other cultures if they are going to be engaged and responsible citizens of our increasingly complex and interrelated world. Living and studying in other parts of the world is a wonderful way for students to enhance their global awareness."
In a report by NAFSA: Association of International Educators, UW-Eau Claire is listed as one of the top two master's-level public institutions in Wisconsin in terms of dollars added to the local economy by international students.
The 258 international students studying at UW-Eau Claire in 2011-12 contributed nearly $6 million to the Chippewa Valley economy, according to the NAFSA report.
Bousquet said that while the $6 million pumped into the Chippewa Valley economy by international students is impressive, the value of having international students on campus cannot be measured only in dollars.
"These students add so much to our university by bringing an international perspective to our classrooms and campus community," Bousquet said. "They also help internationalize the greater Eau Claire community, which makes the Chippewa Valley an even more dynamic place to live, work and go to school."
Bousquet and Markgraf returned this week from China where they led an official UW-Eau Claire international delegation charged with raising UW-Eau Claire's profile among Chinese students and to helping demystify China in the eyes of UW-Eau Claire students.
While one in four of UW-Eau Claire students currently have an international experience, few of them go to China despite its significant importance to the world's economy, Bousquet said. In the fall 2012 semester, 97 students from China are enrolled at UW-Eau Claire but no UW-Eau Claire students are studying in China, he said.
"Wisconsin exports to China have soared in recent years, making it our state's top trading partner overseas," Bousquet said, noting that only Canada and Mexico trade more with Wisconsin. "Whether our graduates work for a large international corporation or a family-owned business in their hometown, they need skills to work in today's global economy, of which China is a major player. We are working to help our students to feel more comfortable studying in Asia in general, and China in particular."
While in China, delegates met with students and administrators at Chinese universities to strengthen existing partnerships and to identify new opportunities for UW-Eau Claire students and faculty in Asia. Also, one of the delegates is a senior journalism major who is sharing information about China with other students via photos and stories on a blog. The hope is that her stories will inspire other UW-Eau Claire students to consider China when thinking about international destinations.
While the Open Doors and NAFSA reports indicate UW-Eau Claire's international education programs are strong, there is more work to be done, Bousquet said.
"One of the things I hope to do as interim chancellor is to help UW-Eau Claire think differently and to think bigger as it goes about internationalizing the campus," Bousquet said. "As these reports indicate, we are already are doing a lot, but we know there are many more opportunities around the world that can help us graduate more students with the skills needed to be global leaders, be it in business, health care, education or the environment."