International Exchange Students at VCU

In making my rounds trying to meet people in the Global Education Office, I was able to meet with an administrator of the international exchange students program.  I wanted to know more about the program and the students, and figure out if there is a need for me to get involved.

Who are they and where do they come from?

  • Students in the exchange program are at VCU for a year, half year, or semester.
  • Most international students come through the ISEP program, which has to balance out within the network, not country to country.  If VCU sends out 12 students, they can take in 12 students.  It doesn’t matter where they are going or where they are coming from.
  • Partnership schools send students for an entire year, a large number from the University of the West of England.
    • Partnership schools try to balance within the year, but typically it only averages out over a three year period.
  • This spring, there are 25 students, last semester there were 35, a few of which carried over into the spring.  The largest numbers come from Europe, Brazil, VCUQ, China, and Korea.
  • These students don’t normally have academic issues, and tend to be the best of the best from their home schools.

So what are they doing here?

  • Standard coursework
  • Some just for a year to work on a thesis
  • Graduate work

What about outside of academic study?  The program tries to help the students branch out, meet Americans, and get involved in the community.

  • Tour of campus
  • Trips to Williamsburg and Washington D.C.
  • Dinners with staff
  • Social activities
  • Most are required to live on campus, and they typically live with other international students.  Next year, they will be living in the Globe!

But they tend to stick together as a group.  Many international students don’t make a lot of connections with American students.  To try to help this, they are paired with “buddies” who are American students who have recently returned from studying abroad.

The students that come in through the program do seem pretty academically self-sufficient.  They know what courses they need to take, and the work they need to get done.  But there’s always opportunities for more support!  We thought it would be good to at least get me introduced to the students during their orientation, and bring them into the library for a quick tour during their campus tours.  I’ll have to contact her later to find out the dates for the fall!

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