UWFV experiences rise in enrollment with international students

Joseph Schulz, Regional Editor

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UW-Fox Valley has seen the number of international students increase on its campus, going from 22 students in the fall 2017 semester to 108 students in the spring 2019 semester.

UWFV International Student Coordinator Sarah Christensen said the increase is due to a partnership between UWFV and Kings Education, an organization that helps international students find placement in U.S. colleges and universities.

Christensen said of UWFV’s 108 international students, only 16 aren’t associated with Kings Education.

“They have selected our campus to be one of their partners or collaborators in recruiting students to attend here,” Christensen said. “They have staff on campus, and they support the students in addition to what the staff at UW-Fox Valley can do.”

Christensen said most of the international students chose UWFV because of the UW System’s guaranteed transfer program, which allows students to transfer from any two-year UW school to any four-year university within the UW System.

“There’s things that we help them with so they can progress to Madison, for example, and meet the requirements of guaranteed transfer and meet the requirements of their major so they aren’t behind when they get to UW Madison,” Christensen said.

Christensen said her role as the international student coordinator includes being an academic adviser and teaching a class that familiarizes international students with American culture.

“I really enjoy teaching the class because I get to know the new students a lot better; I get to see them at least once a week,” Christensen said. “I get to know them better and get to know what they’re excited about, or worried about, or unsure about.”

Kings Education Center Manager Chihae Lee said collaborating with the staff at UWFV has been the highlight of the partnership between Kings and UWFV.

“Sarah Christensen, she has been an immense help; she has been the focal person that we would go to when we needed help with anything,” Lee said. “She knows things like immigration, student services, academics and whatnot.”

Lee said since UWFV doesn’t have residence halls, international students attending UWFV live in the Fox Village Apartments, which are about a five-minute walk from campus.

“It is a third party that is not really through UWFV,” Lee said.

UW Oshkosh Immigration Compliance and International Enrollment Management Coordinator and former international student Johannes Schmied said UWO currently has 54 international students enrolled, exactly half as many as UWFV.

“Many students come here for the freedom to do what they want because in their home countries maybe they cannot date, maybe they cannot go out past a certain time,” Schmied said. “Every country has different rules.”

Schmied said UWO’s Office of International Education offers an intensive English program and English language tutoring for students.

“UWO and other universities in Wisconsin have a lot of services, for example the [Undergraduate Advising Resource Center] offices where advisers help students choose classes; that is at least not common in my home country (Austria),” Schmied said. “In my home country there’s not really professional advisers that help students; you have to find everything yourself.”

UWO business major and international student Luiz Gustavo Caputo Spim said he was an exchange student in Wisconsin for his senior year of high school.

“I was interested in staying in the U.S. and going to college here because of essentially more economic opportunities here than in Brazil, which is my home country,” Spim said.

Spim said the biggest difference between living in Wisconsin and in Brazil is the population difference. The city he was from had a population of about a million.

“In terms of Brazil and the U.S. I think Americans are a little more cautious when they first meet you,” Spim said, “whereas in Brazil everyone is a bit more open.”

Christensen said traditional students can learn a lot from international students.

“There’s a lot of things you can learn about working with a variety of people,” Christensen said. “I think that’s really helpful for life and work experiences beyond college because you could be working with people with different backgrounds, from different countries, whatever. There’s a lot we can learn from each other just by getting to know each other and having conversations with each other.”