UW–Madison: A global university

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is joining institutions across the country in celebrating International Education Week. The week is a time to highlight and enjoy the benefits of international education and engagement.

In addition to being a world‐class public research university, UW-Madison has long been a leader in international higher education. For decades we have contributed to globally important research and trained world experts in important areas such as land tenure, infectious disease, poverty, economic development, international politics and history, world religions and cultures, and languages. Being an active participant in the global community by sharing knowledge and building partnerships drives the Wisconsin Idea and affords new opportunities for students, faculty and staff.

We recognize that to prepare our students to thrive in an increasingly global society, they need the skills and knowledge to navigate international and cultural boundaries. Developing these skills and a global perspective does not happen overnight — rather, it is a lifetime effort. Appreciating perspectives other than our own helps us understand one another better and interact more effectively with people from throughout the world. All disciplines have international and cross-disciplinary implications that include opportunities for reciprocal learning and exchanges between campus and international communities.

Our efforts to internationalize the UW–Madison experience have yielded success, as indicated by several metrics:

  • We have been recognized in the 2016 Open Doors Report as a top 25 university for campuses with the most students studying abroad and for the most international students on campus. The report is published by the Institute of International Education in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
  • The eight area studies centers that make up our Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) are among the best in the country. Six are federally funded National Resource Centers. Faculty associated with the studies centers regularly share their expertise globally.
  • Many of UW–Madison’s faculty members are from countries outside the United States, resulting in diverse perspectives and expertise that benefit students. Based on our October 2015 headcount, about 16 percent of our 2,150 tenured and tenure-track faculty are foreign-born. This includes those with permanent residency status and those with a temporary visa.
  • Domestic students find opportunities to pursue their academic passions beyond campus as 25 percent of our graduates have had a study abroad experience.
  • We have produced 3,184 Peace Corps volunteers — the second highest number of any institution in the United States.
  • UW–Madison is a destination for students worldwide. Some 6,000 international students from 109 countries are currently studying at our university. The presence of international students also impacts the surrounding community through an infusion of $154 million, which supports 2,440 jobs.
  • Our robust global network of more than 14,000 alumni outside the United States provides support for students abroad, and continues to engage with the university well after graduation. Our alumni serve as ambassadors, diplomats and national leaders around the globe.

This is a small sampling of the ways in which UW–Madison is seeing success in its efforts to increase international education and cultural experiences. We are a global university thanks to the efforts of students, faculty and staff.

I encourage you to attend events planned this week. I hope you might find opportunities to grow, expand your perspective, and become a part of our global community.