||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
Australian Study Abroad Program|
Attracting UW-Eau Claire Students
MAILED: Dec. 4, 1998|
At least 15 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students will spend the fall 1999 semester in Australia.
UW-Eau Claire has had an exchange program with Southern Cross University in Lismore, Australia, for several years. But the exchange program was recently converted to a study abroad program ¾ meaning more UW-Eau Claire students can participate each year, said Karl Markgraf, director of UW-Eau Claire's Center for International Education.
"The interest by our students ¾ and students across the country ¾ in Australia is tremendous," Markgraf said. "Every student who has inquired about the program has said it's someplace they've always wanted to go."
As an exchange program, UW-Eau Claire could only send as many students to Southern Cross as it sent to UW-Eau Claire, Markgraf said. As a result, just one or two UW-Eau Claire students went each year.
But as a study abroad program, UW-Eau Claire can send dozens of students each year, he said. Southern Cross can house 35 UW-Eau Claire students on its campus and its administrators have said they'd welcome even more if additional students lived off campus, Markgraf said, noting that he thinks the program will grow to 35 in just a few years.
Within weeks of the program's study abroad status being approved, 13 UW-Eau Claire students completed applications and several others are in the process of completing them, said Cheryl Lochner-Wright, study abroad coordinator. Some 170 students inquired about the program during a recent study abroad fair, she said.
"That's an amazing number of students for a program that we've only known about for several weeks," Lochner-Wright said.
With 6,000 students, Southern Cross University offers the small classes and intimate campus community that UW-Eau Claire students have grown used to, said Lochner-Wright. And the City of Lismore, population 40,000, is the commercial, sporting and cultural capital of the North Coast.
Programs in English-speaking countries have long been popular with UW-Eau Claire students, Markgraf said, noting that language is among the things that make the Australian program attractive. But Australia will offer very different experiences than those found in other English-speaking countries such as England and Scotland, he said.
For example, there will be optional four- or 10-day outback excursions as part of the program, Markgraf said. "Spending time in the rainforest or the bush will be attractive to a lot of students," he said. "There will be a real chance to experience Australia outside of the campus."
Because the program is different than others, it's likely that students who had not before considered studying abroad will do so now, said Lochner-Wright. As a result, the overall number of UW-Eau Claire students who study abroad will likely increase, she said.
Already some 250 UW-Eau Claire students study abroad each year, Lochner-Wright said, noting that that number is well above the national average.
Markgraf said his staff is aggressively promoting the program in Australia to majors that have traditionally not participated in study abroad programs. The response has been positive so far, Lochner-Wright said, noting that people in the hard sciences are particularly excited.
"The people in biology were jumping up and down when we talked to them about the snakes and other species in Australia," Markgraf said.
The staff also is working with some departments to make it easier for students to study abroad without delaying their graduation, Markgraf said, noting that some programs are structured so tightly that students who study abroad for a semester end up a year behind.
"The Center for International Education is working with departments to improve programming," Markgraf said. "We want to ensure that students can study abroad, and still continue to make progress toward their graduation without falling behind."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Dec. 4, 1998