Folio News Story
January 6, 2006

It takes a village

U of A International connects students and scholars with a global community

by Caitlin Crawshaw
Folio Staff

It has often been said there's a difference between "book learning" and life experience, but for University of Alberta International (UAI), both types of knowledge are critical to the post-secondary experience.

Under the leadership of the vice-provost and associate vice-president (international), UAI strives to connect the U of A's faculty, students and administrative professionals with their counterparts across the world, and to create research and learning environments which are informed by global ideas and issues.

This includes supporting an international education for U of A students who wish to travel and learn abroad, and for international students who choose to make the U of A home. The UAI's bustling International Centre, for instance, is renowned for its delivery of services to both international and domestic students, and for its programs which explore global issues.

UAI also supports U of A administrative professionals and faculty members pursuing international activities abroad. The Global Education Program (GEP) provides extra-curricular educational opportunities for faculty, staff, students and the community to explore issues of a global nature. The cornerstone of the program is International Week, an annual event featuring lectures, panel discussions and presentations by thinkers and performers from around the world, and by U of A researchers exploring global themes. Held each year in January, the event draws interest from both the U of A campus community and the broader community alike.

The GEP also brings worlds together through International House, the U of A's first international residence. Opened in 2004, the residence is a member of a worldwide league of International Houses, offering undergraduate and graduate students the chance to share a home with students from all four corners of the globe.

For domestic students interested in challenging their world view in another culture, UAI supports the Education Abroad Program, which co-ordinates different international learning opportunities for students at the U of A. In fact, the U of A has partnerships with more than 100 post-secondary institutions in 34 countries, allowing U of A students to study abroad while paying U of A tuition fees. Conversely, UAI is also actively involved in recruiting international students to the U of A.

Globally minded U of A departments and faculties are assisted by the UAI's international relations department, which provides advice and regional expertise on international collaboration. Moreover, the UAI also brings the expertise of academics and administrators to the leaders of developing countries and those in transition. The UAI's international projects unit, for instance, helps implement teaching, research and development projects with international funding institutions like the World Bank and the Canadian International Development Agency.