By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — In the past 10 years, St. Ambrose University’s Center for International Education has grown quickly. “We had minimal exposure prior to 2000,” said Ryan Dye, the center’s director.
For a few decades, international education consisted of a program in Ecuador started by St. Ambrose University faculty. “That was about the extent of our program.”
Today, around 40 international students from various countries are studying at the Davenport university and about 140 St. Ambrose students will travel to other countries during the current academic year.
Seventeen students from Saudi Arabia are studying at St. Ambrose this year, Dye said. Most are in the master of information technology management program and are getting full rides from the Saudi government. Dye credits St. Ambrose President Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, who worked with the Saudi government to be able to offer the program to that country’s students.
For the first time, five students from China are on campus. They are studying here because of a memorandum of understanding between St. Ambrose and Guangdong University of Finance in China that allows students to complete their undergraduate studies at St. Ambrose and continue in the master of accounting or the new master of finance program. Three St. Ambrose faculty members helped link the schools for the memorandum.
There also are nine students from the United Kingdom, three from Germany, three from Tanzania, one from Australia, one from Indonesia, one from the Netherlands and one from Botswana.
Meanwhile, around 140 St. Ambrose students will study abroad for either a semester, a full academic year or during academic breaks. “The vast majority, around 120, will do short-term programs,” Dye said.
Oftentimes, a faculty member will incorporate studies from the classroom into a trip abroad for interested students. These trips often take place during breaks during the winter, spring or summer.
Some of this year’s study abroad experiences include trips to Italy, Ecuador, Greece, Korea and Belize. “We are excited to offer a volunteer trip to Haiti over spring break (in 2013),” he added.
Another door opened this year with a program between St. Ambrose and St. Mary University College in London.
Students coming to St. Ambrose “are keen to learn” and have the opportunity to work on their English skills and get a quality education. “They are very serious about their studies,” Dye said. Having international students on campus helps enrich the lives of students who encounter them, he added.
Sending students abroad offers a rich experience that makes them more marketable after graduation.
“I think it is fair to say we believe sending students abroad and receiving international students helps the university to complete its mission of enriching lives,” Dye said.