Wisconsin creates student-exchange program with China

Updated: 2015-02-26 11:52

By Amy He in New York(China Daily USA)

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Educators in Wisconsin are working with China-based educational officials to create an exchange program with Chinese students that will begin at the high school level in the state.

About two dozen Chinese students will be attending an immersive summer education program in Wisconsin cities - Wausau and Marshfield - with the possibility of later attending high schools in the districts. University of Wisconsin (UW) educators hope that eventually they will enroll in the university's education system.

"I think it's a win-win. For us, it's good for enrollment; it's true for the school districts as well as UW-Marathon County (UWMC). I think it's a great entry into the UW system for the Chinese students," said Keith Montgomery, dean of the university in Marathon.

"They can get everything they need locally, and then they can move on into UW-Eau Claire or UW-Madison Business School, for example. It's a great way of getting into a small town, a small American town environment. We would look forward to receiving these students. I know they're going to get a great welcome in the summer," he said.

The Chinese high school students will be coming from Jiangsu province for about three weeks from July 18 to Aug 7, and will be in an intensive English-language program, as well as learn about US high-school culture and US professional environments, Montgomery told China Daily.

He said that details of the program are still being worked on, and that he did not know whether the students would have to pay to be part in the program. Montgomery said that the Wisconsin school districts will be signing a memorandum of understanding with their counterparts in Jiangsu soon to confirm the partnership.

The students will live with area families for a more immersive experience, according to Tim Urbonya, director of international education at the University of Wisconsin Colleges who is spearheading the program with Chinese educators.

Wisconsin creates student-exchange program with China

The program is an opportunity for the local school districts to bring in international students, he said.

"I think our deans, like Keith, they like the idea of finding ways to internationalize the community. It seems like the healthy thing to do," said Urbonya. "We did not have a very diverse population in many of the parts of our state, and particularly in our campus area. In the new global world that we live in, you can't live in isolation; you have to interact with people from all over the world. We need to get started on that direction."

Eventually, students from Wisconsin may be sent to study in China, but details about that have not been formalized, Urbonya said.

He said there's an economic imperative to the program because a student from out-of-state pays about $12,000 in tuition for the year compared to the $5,000 paid by an in-state student.

"Our state is going to see a declining high school population over the next several years, and for us, that means a declining population of students coming from our local high schools into our local universities. So we need a bigger pool of students, and there is really nowhere to go. If we recruit more heavily in Wisconsin, we're really just all trying to recruit the same students. But when we bring in international students, it's a brand new pool of students," he said.

"It's a population of students that pay non-resident tuition, which is substantial revenue for us. It's both a diversity initiative and an economic development initiative," said Urbonya.


(China Daily USA 02/26/2015 page1)