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UW-Eau Claire to Enter Exchange
Program with Chinese Universities

RELEASED: July 2, 2007

Flag of ChinaEAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has been accepted into a prestigious international exchange program that will allow students from China to earn dual degrees from UW-Eau Claire and their home institution in China.

Students enrolled in the China 1-2-1 Partnership Program — facilitated through the China Center for International Educational Exchange and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities — will spend a year at a Chinese university, study at UW-Eau Claire for two years and return to the institution in China for their final year, said Karl Markgraf, director of the Center for International Education at UW-Eau Claire. After completing all program requirements at both institutions, students will receive bachelor's degrees from UW-Eau Claire and the institution in China, he said.

"It's a wonderful program that brings American and Chinese universities together to help Chinese students better access higher education in the United States," Markgraf said, noting that it has been difficult for Chinese students to secure visas since 9-11.

China supports the program because it gives undergraduate students a meaningful international experience, proficiency in English and an opportunity to earn a degree from an American university without having to pay international student tuition for the full four years of their university education, Markgraf said. The program also is appealing to Chinese leaders because it provides relative certainty that the students will return to China, which is necessary for them to earn their degrees, he said.

UW-Eau Claire is seeking to expand its partnerships with higher education institutions throughout the world, said Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich.

"International students enrich our campus community and give our faculty and students opportunities to make connections that can lead to research or artistic collaborations, faculty exchange programs or other experiences that will make our students and graduates more globally aware," Levin-Stankevich said.

Given China's growing importance to the world's economy, it's critical that the United States make meaningful connections there, Levin-Stankevich said, noting that the China 1-2-1 program is one way higher education institutions can contribute to that effort.

"The possibilities of working with China are endless," Levin-Stankevich said. "We hope to eventually have faculty and staff exchanges with Chinese universities. There are lots of opportunities and this is an excellent way to establish the connections we need to make the most of those opportunities."

As part of the China 1-2-1 program, UW-Eau Claire will sign agreements with one or more partner universities in China, Markgraf said, noting that the partner institutions must have programs that are a good fit with those offered at UW-Eau Claire. Exchange students must major in areas of study that are approved by UW-Eau Claire and their home institutions, he said. While the specific majors still are being identified, they likely will include programs in the arts, mathematics, computer science, the sciences, economics and political science, he said.

"We will select the majors carefully because we want to make sure the students can complete all the requirements during their two years here and two years in China," Markgraf said. "We must maintain the quality of our academic programs because these students will receive degrees from UW-Eau Claire."

The first Chinese exchange students are expected to arrive at UW-Eau Claire in fall 2008, Markgraf said. He expects five to 10 Chinese exchange students to attend UW-Eau Claire the first year, but up to 25 students in future years.

Approximately 35 U.S. colleges and universities are part of the program.

"It's been very successful in terms of degree completion and rate of return of the Chinese students to their home country," Markgraf said of the program. "That is a key component for both participating nations, as the U.S. is concerned about immigration, and China is concerned about emigration of its highly educated citizens. We're very happy that we've been selected to participate and are looking forward to working with several new partner institutions from China to develop this cooperation further. The long-term benefits and possibilities for UW-Eau Claire are exciting."

-30-

JB

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