November 18–22 marks International Education Week, a time when we celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange. UW–Madison has much to be proud of, not just this week, but because of the many ways in which the university distinguishes itself as a global institution throughout the year. A host of events over the past few days paints a picture of how the university engages the world.
The beginning of International Education Week brought two pieces of good news. The university continues to rank among the top 25 U.S. institutions for the number of students studying abroad, according to the Open Doors Report, an annual report that ranks universities’ engagement in global exchange. UW–Madison ranked #18 on this list, with 2,410 students pursuing their academic interests abroad during the 2017–2018 academic year. “Life-changing” is the word these students frequently use to describe their time abroad. They return with new perspectives on themselves, their academic field, and the ways that Wisconsin and the U.S. fit into the global picture.
The Open Doors Report also showed UW as #21 on the list of the top #25 U.S. institutions hosting international students. This is one more indicator that the university retains its strong reputation around the globe. International students enrich the residential experience of all of our students. International and domestic students both learn from each other, and the benefits that come out of this diversity are innumerable
Students worldwide see UW–Madison as an attractive place to study. UW–Madison had a record year of applications and enrollment for international freshmen, coming at a time when others are seeing a diminishing trend. As of fall 2018, international students made up 14% of the student body, according to our enrollment data.
UW–Madison Startup Week also afforded an opportunity for sensitive conversations between campus, community, and overseas partners during a one-day conference on China and U.S. University Intellectual Property. The conversations at this event, organized in collaboration with WARF, UW–Madison, and Nanjing University, offered constructive perspectives on pressing issues that can create a barrier as the U.S. looks to partner with and engage China. It was especially gratifying to see this conference taking place on campus as this was a follow-on event to a similar conference that I addressed when I visited the Nanjing University campus this past summer to sign a strategic partnership agreement.
We also recently received news that Wisconsin School of Business students Chase Devens and David Smith won first place in the IES Study Abroad Film Festival for their film Les Cinq Mois-The Five Months. The two Badgers connected in Paris during a study abroad program and captured some of the challenges, mishaps, and unforgettable moments that often come with an experience abroad. We are proud of these students for how they dealt with and ultimately triumphed in their experience abroad.
I could continue at length, discussing UW–Madison’s many faculty research projects that are jointly done with international partners, our many internships abroad, multiple language learning opportunities, cultural events, and other activities that take place every day. It is what we do each and every day as a university community that makes UW–Madison a global institution.
A robust international student body, engagement with global partners, faculty research worldwide, successful alumni who work all over the world, and students actively pursuing international experiences—all of these and more add up to a university that is globally connected.
That is worth celebrating.