International students not only make La Crosse a source of workers for the global economy but also contribute more than $10.5 million to local coffers.
The worldwide perspective is reflected at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Viterbo University and Western Technical College, said Jay Lokken, director of UW-L’s Office of International Education.
That reflection will be mirrored during Global Initiatives Week in La Crosse, running Friday through Nov. 15, which coincides with International Education Week.
“UW-L, in partnership with the (La Crosse school) district’s international programs, is building global competency for our children when they enter the work force as they learn about countries around us,” he said. “From elementary schools to the technical school and universities, we are training employees.”
Foreign students affect the community beyond the campuses, said Liz Arnold, chairwoman of Global Initiatives Week.
“International students offer an incredible opportunity not only for the students but also for the economic impact,” Arnold said.
Lokken echoed that assessment, saying, “Viterbo, UW-L and Western bring millions into the schools and the community. And the cultural contribution is an invaluable asset to La Crosse.”
Make that monetary contribution more than $10.5 million in the 2011-2012 school year, according to statistics compiled by NAFSA-The Association of International Educators, based on the U.S. State Department’s count of visas issued to students.
UW-L’s international students contributed an estimated $9.25 million in tuition, fees and living expenses to the local economy that year, while Viterbo’s chalked up nearly $1.1 million, according the association. No figures were available for Western.
Overall enrollments at the three schools this fall are 10,427 at UW-L, 2,729 at Viterbo and 7,619 at Western.
UW-L has 350 international students from 30 countries and sent nearly 440 students to study programs around the world last year, Lokken said.
“UW-L is a major player, and there is a significant effort to make it a top-ranked global university,” he said.
Ten to 20 Viterbo students a year study abroad, said Barbara Gayle, the school’s academic vice president.
Many Viterbo students hold full- or part-time jobs, which limits their flexibility for long-term study in other countries, Gayle said.
“We have a large nursing (student) population, and that curriculum is set in stone,” she said.
As an alternative, Viterbo offers a variety of short-term service and study travel options, she said.
A group of nursing students is going to Belize, and another delegation of nursing master’s students is going to Guatemala, she said.
“Exposing students to other ways of being is important because of the complex world they’ll be in,” Gayle said.
Western has four international students, with more showing interest, said Max Vang, a counselor and international student specialist at the school. Vang said he has worked with 20 to 30 international students during the past decade.
“We’re fortunate to blend the riches these students have brought us,” he said. “International students bring in a wealth of riches economically and culturally.”
Source: Education News