Funding limits global education

Jan. 22, 2014

By Alexandria Zamecnik

 

Faculty, staff and university administration gathered on Jan. 13 for the first forum of International Education to discuss the future of its study abroad program.

UW-Whitewater currently has 318 students studying abroad and is home to 238 international students. Although it’s an increase from the last 20 years, concerns by faculty have been raised about the future of global education.

Interim Provost Mary Pinkerton said not every student at UW-Whitewater has as good of an experience as it could be, and gaining an international experience is one way to improve it.

“We need to think about the barriers that we have to accomplishing a good experience for the students,” Pinkerton said. “What can we do to make these experiences more meaningful for our students and teachers?”

Creating globally and culturally competent professors and staff is the goal of Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs Dr. Tom Rios.

“When I had a staff meeting with 25 leaders from Student Affairs, I asked them a simple question: ‘How many of you believe you are globally or culturally competent?’” Dr. Rios said. “It struck me that only one-third of those people raised their hand, and here we are trying to help students.”

Participants at the forum created a list of what they believed to be the biggest weaknesses of International Education.

According to results from the forum, UW-Whitewater lacks the proper funding and support to host international activities, there is not enough communication and promotion of opportunities available to students, and finally, international education is not an institutional priority or commitment.

Sydney Nelson, a global ambassador at the Center for Global Education and graduate assistant, said she believes that the biggest weakness of International Education is the amount of funding received.

“The ideal situation is that we would receive an unlimited amount of funding from the government, but they have their own issues to resolve,” Nelson said. “Next would be that we should put a bit more pressure on our alumni donors and ask them to allocate funds toward international education.”

Nelson recognizes that International Education cannot be completely funded by third-party providers. She recommends that students compile various sources to fund their international trips.

“I hear a lot of students talking about International Education here at UW-Whitewater, and some of the challenges and changes that should be made, but I rarely see them participating in forum conversations,” Nelson said. “I encourage those who have something to say to become more involved with the process, so your voice will be heard.”

By 2020, the Center for Global Education wants each of the college departments to be completely internationalized.  Colleges would have international scholars in residence, increased engagement from campus and an international injection into all campus conversations.

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