The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

UWEC receives high honor for their study abroad programs

In Wisconsin and Minnesota, UWEC was the top-ranked master’s university for study-abroad participation
Learn more about UW-Eau Claire’s study abroad programs on their website. (Photo used with the permission from Eliza Zahn)

Last month, the 2023 Open Doors Report of the Institute of International Education released the data for institutions that send United States students abroad. These include baccalaureate and associate colleges, master’s universities and colleges, special focus institutions and doctoral universities.

For master’s-level colleges and universities, UW-Eau Claire was ranked 15th in the country for its student’s participation in study abroad programs. It is the leading university in all of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The data used for this report was from the school year of 2021-2022, when a total of 254 UW-Eau Claire students studied abroad. Colleen Marchwick, the Director of the Center for International Education, informed us of UW-Eau Claire’s past success with these ranks.

According to Marchwick, UW-Eau Claire has continued to be a part of the Leading Institutions list for Master’s Colleges & Universities every year since 2002-2003. The only exception was the year 2020-2021, which was greatly affected by COVID-19.

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“Admissions presents to future Blugolds so they come with the intention to study abroad,” Marchwick said. “Academic departments allow credit earned abroad to be used toward degree completion, and UW-Eau Claire supports students financially by offering study abroad grants and scholarships.”

Our university has had a long history of study abroad programs, the very first trip being to Mexico in the 1950s, according to Marchwick. Since then, the support system for international education has only been growing. 

Natalie Engh is a third-year Spanish student planning to study abroad in Spain.

“I think UW-Eau Claire’s program stands out from others because of the number of opportunities it gives students. There are so many different locations, programs and lengths of time, and they do a really good job making study abroad possible for so many students,” Engh said.

According to Marchwick, there has been a lot of research that shows the correlation between studying abroad and positive outcomes for students: academically, professionally and personally.

“Students are more likely to be engaged on campus, have higher GPAs and graduate,” Marchwick said. “Employers value the skills gained through study abroad, such as adaptability, flexibility and the ability to work through differences. Lastly, students personally report increased confidence and independence.”

UW-Eau Claire has over 50 programs available to students, with over 30 different countries to choose from. Students can participate in immersion or research experiences that may only be a few weeks, or they can study abroad for a full semester. 

Ellen Heunisch is an integrated strategic communication student planning to study abroad in England. According to Heunisch, UW-Eau Claire students must take a mandatory course before studying abroad.

“This course prepares students for the culture shock, educational changes and traveling challenges they will have while experiencing their academic journey abroad. I believe this course makes UW-Eau Claire stand out compared to other universities,” Heunisch said.

Engh and Heunisch have yet to study abroad, but they both said that the coordinators and advisors for these programs have been extremely helpful in their preparation process.

“University presents a unique time in your life when you can travel for a substantial amount of time and immerse yourself in a new language, culture and community,” Marchwick said. “I really encourage students to take advantage of this moment where they have the time to explore and learn, as it doesn’t last forever.”

Matczak can be reached at [email protected].

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