International student enrollment is on the rise at UW-Eau Claire


The Center for Internation Education at UW-Eau Claire is located in Schofield Hall 3 and offers resources for international students. © Noor Shami, 2023.

Noor Shami

International student enrollment totals are on the rise for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The  University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire had a 31.5 % decrease of international enrollment during the fall semester of 2019 through the fall semester of 2021, but now enrollment is back on track and going up. 

As COVID-19 policies in international countries responded to the virus and worked on minimizing the impact it had on their community, student recruitment efforts have been soaring with 215 international students on campus this school year. 

Colleen Marchwick, Director of the Center for International Education at UW-Eau Claire, emphasizes how the high quality of education is a draw to international students. 

“We have dual degree programs in international business, finance, computer science, engineering that attract a fair number of students,” Marchwick said. 

Within the programs, 38 countries are represented with students from China, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, and more. 

Vivian Ong is a senior majoring in Actuarial Science while pursuing a Chinese certificate. She began her journey at UW-Eau Claire from Malaysia. She highlighted the reasons why the university was the top choice on her list. 

“I came to UWEC for three simple reasons,“ Ong said. “They offered my major, provided scholarships, and admissions were very responsive to every question I had. “They always try their best to help us with our needs as an international student.” 

The transition from an international student’s home country to the U.S. can be difficult, however Marchwick said the role of the Center for International Education is to ensure a smooth arrival. 

“The big service that we provide is helping students with managing U.S. immigration policies, so that they can maintain their immigration status,” Marchwick said. “It is very important that students can maintain their immigration status so that they can both go to school here and then in some cases, have a training benefit that they can use after they leave or finish their studies.” 

Marchwick praised international students for their courage and highlighted the importance of recognizing it, engaging with them with empathy, compassion, and support. 

“They face real challenges related to language difference and cultural difference, but they are doing something extraordinary,” Marchwick said. “They are leaving their friends and family behind and finding ways to better themselves in a place where they don’t have a lot of support systems.” 

Dorcas Yeoh arriving at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. © Dorcas Yeoh, 2021

Dorcas Yeoh, a senior studying Communication Sciences and Disorders transferred from Malaysia in the spring of 2021. She was impressed with the amount of support provided by the CIE in order to help international students feel like they are a part of the community and transition into the lifestyle in Eau Claire.  

“There have been many eye-opening experiences ever since I moved here, but I have grown so much by learning about the cultures and practices in America that are different from mine,” said Yeoh. “The Center of International Education has been the biggest support for international students like me. They constantly keep us updated, check on us, and provide resources for us to refer to if we ever need help.”