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UCLA remains one of the best U.S. universities for promoting, fostering international education

As our world becomes more and more globalized, students are increasingly understanding the benefits of international education. This is good news for employers, who are increasingly seeking to hire people who have global experience. It’s also good news for UCLA students, who have an excellent array of opportunities and resources available to them regardless of budget or time.

By Rebecca Kendall
Director of Communications

International education and experience is something that more and more employers are looking for when it comes to hiring, says Kathy Sims, director of the UCLA Career Center.

From Nov. 14 to 18, people in more than 100 countries celebrated International Education Week, an initiative created in 2000 by the U.S. Departments of State and Education. The UCLA International Institute, which is comprised of 18 multidisciplinary centers and programs that are focused on world regions and global issues, encouraged students to take a self-guided tour of international opportunities and resources that are available to them at UCLA. This includes scholarship programs, study abroad options, internships and foreign language programs, among other things.

A collection of stories, written especially for UCLA's International Education Week 2011, explore some of these options and share the voices of a number of UCLA students who have benefitted from learning more about life outside of the United States.

International education and experience is something that more and more employers are looking for when it comes to hiring, says Kathy Sims, director of the UCLA Career Center. “It’s not necessarily a requirement, but it’s attractive and can set a job candidate apart.”

She says that employers with international interests, as well as employers who work solely within the U.S, are interested in hiring people who have experienced another part of the world.

“International exposure adds a dimension to a job candidate that someone without that experience won’t have,” says Sims. “That dimension may be that they acclimatize well, or that they appreciate diversity in a different way or understand cultural differences at a level that’s more significant.”

It may also illustrate a candidate’s interest in learning, their receptiveness to new ideas or their problem-solving skills.

“It’s important for job-seekers to be able to interpret their international experience and translate it for a particular employer. They need to think about how they can leverage it to their advantage.”

Language is another important component to consider, especially in light of the multi-national environment many organizations operate in. Being strategic and thinking about where you want to go in your career is a good first step when considering which language or languages to learn, says Sims.

“Pay attention to world politics and world economy because these things can provide clues regarding which directions to take.”

Last year, 2,363 UCLA students broadened their horizons by studying abroad. With partnerships with hundreds of leading universities, UCLA sends its students to more than 30 countries, including Botswana, Singapore, Spain, Israel and Australia, to name a few. There, they learn language and study a variety of subject areas.

The 2011 Open Doors Report, published by the Institute for International Education, the leading not-for-profit educational and cultural organization in the United States, and released November 14th, ranked UCLA second among publically funded universities, and fourth overall in the nation, in terms of the number of students who earned academic credit for studying abroad.

“One of the biggest misconceptions that our students have is that studying abroad is going to be more expensive than a regular study term here, and that there aren’t enough financial aid and resources available to alleviate that, and that’s just not true,” says Hadyn Dick, director of the UCLA International Education Office, who has fond memories of studying abroad in Perugia, Italy, during the summer between her junior and senior years at Oberlin College in Ohio.

“There are hundreds and hundreds of options at every budget level,” she says. “For students in the UC based programs, such as the Education Abroad Program or travel study, financial aid is available, and we’re pleased that there are so many more scholarships available for this activity. In the past couple of years, we’ve seen the number of scholarships expand greatly.” This includes new scholarships for students to study in Germany and Brazil, she says.

A second major misconception is that choosing to study away from UCLA will derail academic progress and push graduation back.“With the wide variety of programs offered, students can take just about every subject under the sun, so if they need to satisfy major requirements, they can do that with careful planning. We always encourage students to just come talk to us and see what options there are. Programs are all different durations.”

While our students are heading all over the globe, thousands of international students are coming to UCLA.

So what’s the draw?

“We have a brand, we have prestige and we have amazing, high-quality academic programs — not to mention, we’re in an amazing location,” says Bob Erickson, director of the Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars. “Los Angeles is a place where everyone, regardless of their background, fits in very nicely.”

The Open Doors Report ranked UCLA third among the nation’s public universities, and sixth overall, for attracting and enrolling international students. During the 2010/2011 academic year, 6,249 foreign students chose UCLA as their destination school. This represents an 11 percent jump over 2009/10 when 5,685 international students were enrolled at UCLA. This is more than double the national average increase of 5 percent for the same time period.

Over the past decade, there has been a 32 percent increase in the numbers of international students coming to study in the United States, with China, India and South Korea currently being the top countries of origin. Together, these three countries comprise 46 percent of total international enrollments in the U.S.

In addition, the report found that the two most popular areas of study for incoming international students were business and management at 22 percent and engineering at 19 percent. International students are said to inject $21 billion into the American economy each year.

UCLA International Institute