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UW-Eau Claire moves up in ranking of national study abroad leaders

| Julie Poquette

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire continues to gain prominence as a national leader among master’s-level colleges and universities when it comes to sending students to study abroad, according to the 2019 Open Doors Report of the Institute for International Education.

With 515 students studying abroad during the 2017-18 academic year, UW-Eau Claire ranks 17th (up from 29th last year) among U.S. public and private master’s-level schools in the total number of its students who study abroad. UW-Eau Claire is one of only two master’s-level universities in Wisconsin among the top 40 U.S. institutions in this category. UW Oshkosh also made the ranking, placing 35th.

UW-Eau Claire also ranked 11th nationally among master’s-level universities for its number of students who study abroad in mid-length duration programs, defined as lasting one semester or one to two quarters. UW-Eau Claire is the only Wisconsin university, public or private, to make this list. During the 2017-18 academic year, 242 UW-Eau Claire students participated in mid-length study abroad programs.

“Having a high number of students studying for a longer duration abroad is a significant accomplishment, as the national trends indicate that students spend less time abroad,” said Colleen Marchwick, director of UW-Eau Claire’s Center for International Education. “We can attribute UW-Eau Claire’s success in this ranking to our long tradition of study abroad, faculty support and strong pre-departure support provided by our CIE staff.”

UW-Eau Claire has long supported the importance of study abroad and international education as a means of providing students with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in a changing world, Marchwick said. Hilda Belle Oxby, a languages faculty member from 1916 to 1953, led UW-Eau Claire’s first study-abroad program, to Mexico, in 1950.

UW-Eau Claire now has about 63 study-abroad program locations in nearly 35 countries. Since last year, UW-Eau Claire increased its number of program locations by about 20 programs and five countries.

“This increase in program choices benefits students and is largely due to our becoming an official affiliate member of University Studies Abroad Consortium earlier this year,” Marchwick said.

The USAC is a nonprofit consortium of U.S. universities that collaborates to raise the quality of international programs and bring student costs down through scholarships and other cost-saving measures. See a story about UW-Eau Claire’s USAC affiliate membership.

Students integrate what they learn abroad into UW-Eau Claire’s internationalized curriculum of languages, area studies, global studies and international business, among other academic programs, Marchwick said.

“Their time studying abroad helps students hone employment-related skills such as tolerance for ambiguity, adaptability, confidence, and intercultural and interpersonal skills,” Marchwick said. “Studying abroad helps prepare our students for a constantly evolving workplace where they need not only knowledge and technical skills but also the soft skills to adapt as needed.”

Top photo caption: UW-Eau Claire student Julia Wopat explores a glowworm cave during her fall 2019 study-abroad experience in New Zealand, where she attends Massey University-Manawatū Campus near the city of Palmerston North.