University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

NEWS RELEASE

News Bureau . Schofield Hall 201 . Eau Claire, WI 54702
phone: (715) 836-4741
fax: (715) 836-2900

UW-Eau Claire A National Leader
In Study Abroad Programs

 MAILED:  Dec. 18, 2003

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is again ranked among the top 20 master’s level higher education institutions in the country when it comes to sending students abroad.

With 356 students studying abroad during the 2001-02 academic year, UW-Eau Claire was 18th nationwide among similar institutions in the number of students studying abroad, according to the 2003 Open Doors report of the Institute of International Education.

“The report indicates that UW-Eau Claire continues to be a leader in international education,” said Karl Markgraf, director of the Center for International Education.

The most recent Open Doors report reflects the study abroad numbers from 2001-02, immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy.

“We had students picking up applications within days of 9-11,” Markgraf said. “Even with 9-11, students were still interested in study abroad, though we also had more cancellations than normal because parents were nervous about their students’ traveling at that time. Still our numbers were higher than the previous year.”

And many of the students who did cancel programs in 2001 have since re-applied, Markgraf said. “They delayed their experience but were still committed to going,” he said.

Nationwide, the number of U.S. students studying abroad has more than doubled in the last decade, the Open Doors Report states. In the 2001-02 academic year, 160,920 students from the United States studied abroad, an increase of 4.4 percent over the previous year.

Interest in study abroad programs among UW-Eau Claire students also has increased in the past decade as more programs have been added and more students have come to understand the value of an international experience, Markgraf said. In addition to personal and academic growth, research shows students who have studied abroad are often more successful than their peers when looking for jobs after they graduate, he said.

“Students who have an international experience on their resume often have a leg up on others when interviewing for jobs,” Markgraf said, noting that employers in all fields recognize how important it is for employees to have an understanding of other countries and cultures.

U.S. News & World Report magazine’s decision to include study abroad statistics in its best colleges rankings is another indication of the value being placed on quality international experiences, said UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Donald Mash.

“By recommending study abroad programs as one of the quality experience enhancements to look for, U.S. News & World Report is reinforcing what we at UW-Eau Claire have long believed — study abroad programs add great value to a student’s undergraduate educational experience,” Mash said.

Currently, about 20 percent of UW-Eau Claire students have a study abroad experience as an undergraduate student, Markgraf said. That number will likely continue to increase, he said, noting that in spring 2004 UW-Eau Claire will send a record number of students abroad for the semester. More than 230 students are enrolled in study abroad programs next semester.

Students at UW-Eau Claire can choose from 23 international programs in 13 countries, including places as varied as Costa Rica, France, Australia, Mexico, Japan and Ireland. Next year, UW-Eau Claire will add programs in South Africa and Chile, Markgraf said.

Unlike many study abroad programs at some other universities, a majority of the programs offered through UW-Eau Claire involve students studying in a country for a period of months rather than weeks, Markgraf said.

“We are committed to providing semester or yearlong programs, giving students opportunities to live in countries long enough to learn about the culture,” Markgraf said. “We try to avoid the two-week trips that more closely resemble tourism than true study abroad experiences. I don’t have anything against tourism but I don’t want it confused with study abroad.”

“The quality and size of our programs make study abroad one of UW-Eau Claire’s Marks of Excellence,” Mash said. “It’s one of the things that sets us apart from our peer institutions.”

The New York-based Institute of International Education, the leading educational and cultural exchange organization in the United States, publishes the Open Doors Report each year.

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JB


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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741
newsbur@uwec.edu

Updated: December 18, 2003