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Expanding International Reach

President Gary A. Ransdell participates in the President's Forum during the 6th annual Confucius Institute Conference in Beijing in 2011.
President Gary A. Ransdell participates in the President's Forum during the 6th annual Confucius Institute Conference in Beijing in 2011.


Expanding International Reach

WKU is expanding its international reach by recruiting more students from around the globe and by offering more opportunities for students to study and intern abroad. The Office of International Programs provides student services and leadership in the development of a strong international profile that is recognized both nationally and internationally.

International and study abroad services

The Sofia-Downing International Center is home to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). ISSS provides specialized support services including immigration advising and guidance, programs and events, and cultural adjustment to WKU’s international students, scholars, and their dependents. International student enrollment has grown from 84 students in 1997 to 683 in 2011.

The Office of Study Abroad and Global Learning serves the WKU community by engaging students, faculty, and staff in diverse, educational, and cultural experiences through various international study abroad opportunities. In 2010-11, more than 600 students studied abroad in 44 countries.

WKU also is home to the Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS), a consortium of colleges and universities that offers international educational experiences in Europe, Asia, Africa, Canada, and Latin America.

Partnerships and exchanges

In a further commitment to recruiting international students, WKU opened an Admissions office at partner institution Hebei University in China in 2012. Faculty and student exchange agreements are in place with more than 20 universities in China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Belgium, France, Germany, Turkey, the Netherlands, Canada, Mexico, and Ecuador. WKU has scientific research partnerships with nine universities in China and Taiwan and has student teaching partnerships with eight universities in Spain, Ecuador, Belize, Germany, South Korea, and Sweden.

In 2010, WKU became the first U.S. University to announce an educational affiliation with Navitas, a global education services provider, to establish a University Pathways Program for international students.

WKU students around the world

Two unique study abroad opportunities allow students to either spend a semester living and studying in a castle in England or on a ship that sails around the globe. At Harlaxton College in Grantham, England, students live in a gorgeous manor house, take classes with 150 other students from all across America, and have the opportunity to travel throughout Europe on the weekends. Students may also choose the “Semester at Sea” program, an educational adventure where they live and study on a cruise ship that travels to multiple locations around the world including Spain, Morocco, Ghana, India, and more throughout an entire semester.

Through the convenience of distance learning programs, WKU has undergraduate and graduate level students studying online in more than 40 countries.

Confucius Institute

WKU is home to Kentucky’s first Confucius Institute, awarded by the Chinese Ministry of Education. Through the Confucius Institute, teachers from China are placed in area schools to teach Chinese language and culture. Thirty-three Chinese teachers taught at 41 schools in 12 districts across Kentucky in 2011-12.

Additionally, the Confucius Institute offers cultural programming, K-12 summer programs, teacher training and certification, professional development, and language proficiency exams. The Chinese Learning Center, located on the first floor of the Helm Library, contains artwork, multimedia exhibits, and 3,000 volumes in a space designed in a traditional Chinese setting.

Chinese Flagship

A select number of students are chosen each year to participate in the Chinese Language Flagship program at WKU – one of only nine in the U.S. The Chinese Language Flagship Program is an initiative of the National Security Education Program of the U.S. Department of Defense that seeks to bring students from the beginning level of Chinese language proficiency to the superior level during their undergraduate career. Students take Flagship courses every semester in addition to their major or minor coursework, and they typically travel to China at least once per year to gain work experience.

Languages and cultures

A major or a minor in a foreign language can be combined with almost any academic or career interest. The Department of Modern Languages offers majors and minors in French, German, and Spanish. In addition, students can enroll in lower division instruction in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and even Swahili.

The Asian Religions and Cultures majors and minors facilitate the understanding of the continent and its peoples, including their languages, religions, and cultures. The majors and minors provide students with an understanding of the Asian past as well as with the knowledge to put current issues and problems into broader historical, religious, and cultural contexts.

2007 WKU sends first group of students to Harlaxton College in England 2009 The first group of WKU students participates in the Semester at Sea program Chinese Language Flagship Pilot Program begins at WKU 2010 WKU announces an educational affiliation with Navitas The first Navitas students arrive at WKU 2011 Confucius Institute’s Chinese Learning Center opens at Helm Library President Gary Ransdell participates in the President’s Forum during the 6th annual Confucius Institute Conference in Beijing 2012 The first student graduates from the Navitas program


Harlaxton College in Grantham, England
Harlaxton College in Grantham, England

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 Last Modified 9/24/14