UWEC study abroad maintains reputation of success

UW-Eau Claire study abroad program ranked 29th in the country

More stories from Alanna Huggett

Pura Vida
May 15, 2019

Photo by Gabbie Henn

In downstairs of Schofield, The Center for International Education can be found with more information on where to study around the world.

According to UW-Eau Claire’s website and Colleen Marchwick, director of the UW-Eau Claire Center for International Education, the CIE was recently ranked 29th in the Open Doors Report by the Institute for International Education.

UW-Eau Claire has 489 students studying abroad, and this year’s rankings were released during International Education Week, Marchwick said.

According to Marchwick, all institutions in the United States that have study abroad programs can submit their data to IIE. The numbers are compiled from students who study abroad through the CIE; including those who participate in faculty-led immersions and international student research, Marchwick said.

The data collected by the IIE from participating universities to determine the rankings include: number of students abroad, the countries where students are studying, length of time, race/ethnicity of students, sex and major(s), said Cheryl Lochner-Wright. Lochner-Wright is a UW-Eau Claire CIE study abroad coordinator who collects and submits UW-Eau Claire’s study abroad data for the ranking.

“It is all aggregate data; nothing is reported by individual students,” Lochner-Wright said.

The Open Doors report includes data about the student profile for those studying abroad, where they’re studying and how long they’re traveling, Marchwick said. Additionally, the report shares data about international students such, like countries they’re from, Marchwick said.

“I think, first of all, part of the reason we’re successful at UW-Eau Claire is that study abroad is integrated into all aspects of the university,” Marchwick said.

At UW-Eau Claire, the institution and faculty support students studying abroad, Marchwick said, attributing the support to the success of the CIE. Departments award students who study abroad credit for their course work overseas, and that’s a way the institution shows their support of the CIE, according to Marchwick. Students can fulfill their integrative learning requirement through study abroad.

The CIE has earned similar awards, including: the 2014 IIE Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education for their “International Fellows Program,” and, in 2016, they were recognized by The Forum for Education Abroad for meeting their standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad.

“We were the first public institution to be found substantially in compliance with the standards of good practice,” Marchwick said in regard to the 2016 recognition.

One of the ways UW-Eau Claire’s CIE demonstrates its strengths as a study abroad program is through pre-departure preparations, Marchwick said. Students complete two orientation sessions and have peer advisors for their program.

“I think that’s really power to be able to ask a peer, and then I also think it allows the person who’s recently returned to realize how much they know and how much they’ve grown,” Marchwick said.

Being ranked among flagship institutions such as UW-Madison and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is something special, Marchwick said.

“I’m very proud that our regional institution also is making students aware of the opportunity (to study abroad), and I’m proud of our students that they’re taking advantage of the opportunity,” Marchwick said.

Huggett can be reached at [email protected].