UWP takes to heart students' interest, signs agreement with Australian school

December 12, 2002

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PLATTEVILLE-Driven by the interests of its students, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville recently signed an exchange agreement with the University of New Castle in Australia and plans to send over its first student, Erin Ralph of Prairie du Chien, next semester. Providing students with international education opportunities is a key initiative of the University, as is evident through this newly developed program.

"We received requests from several students who expressed an interest in doing an exchange program in Australia," said Richard Shultz, dean of the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science. "From some of our other partner schools abroad, we inquired what institutions in Australia would best match our program. The University of New Castle, which is about 100 miles north of Sydney, along the coast, was recommended by several of our partner schools."

Last summer, UWP began discussing the development of a partnership with the University of New Castle. In early November, Shultz traveled to Australia, visiting the New Castle campus and signing an agreement with the university. The agreement is a one-to-one exchange program that will enable UWP students to travel to Australia to study abroad at the University of New Castle, paying UWP tuition fees and studying courses in their fields.

"While the agreement is through the UWP engineering department, the possibility for non-engineering students to study at the University of New Castle is open," Shultz said. "But UWP engineering students, like Erin, will take engineering courses, allowing them to study abroad without losing a semester of engineering classes. However, we will encourage our students to take some kind of class specifically related to Australian culture or history."

Ralph, a senior at UWP majoring in mechanical engineering anticipates leaving the U.S. in February to study at the University of New Castle. Her desire to study in Australia developed after working with people from Australia a few years ago.

"I was intrigued by the culture and the different terminology Australians use for everyday items, although they speak English," Ralph said. "By studying abroad, I hope to gain a global knowledge of what it's like to move half-way across the world and live in the unknown. The University of New Castle has a strong engineering school, which will only enhance my degree from UW-Platteville, and I am curious to see how different the teaching style and education system is there, compared to UWP."

Since Chancellor David Markee's arrival in 1996, UWP has made a concerted effort to develop and offer students international education programs such as this new agreement in Australia. Shultz said he is a strong supporter of study abroad programs for a number of reasons.

"Our international programs benefit UWP by expanding our contacts and enabling us to make friends around the world, but the real benefit is for the students," Shultz said. "An international exchange literally changes students for the rest of their lives. It enhances their education and makes them a citizen of the world, which I think is a real need to live in this new, global community."

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