Officials combine GW’s international initiatives into one website

Media Credit: Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

Provost Forrest Maltzman said this new platform and their research opportunities that cross international borders are "critical to our academic mission."

Information about all of GW’s international programs and services can now be found in one place.

Last week, officials launched GW Global, a website listing the University’s international initiatives – including research, international student services and study abroad – in one location. Experts said the website shows GW’s desire to be seen as a university with a worldwide reputation – a perception that may boost rankings and make GW more attractive to international students.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said the provost’s office has been working with several departments – including the Office of International Programs, Office for Study Abroad and International Services Office – for “many months” to create the new website.

“Our international pursuits – whether they are academic partnerships, international research collaborations, or curricular and extracurricular offerings right on the GW campus – are vital to our goal of delivering a world-class global education,” she said in an email.

The website, which was previously international.gwu.edu, added content typically found on the study abroad or research webpages.

The site has a “study” tab, which links to information about study abroad programs and international students at GW, and a “research” section, which shows GW’s international research projects. The site also has a “GW & The World,” tab where users can select different regions of the world to view academic programs, research projects and events related to each region.

Csellar said the goal of the website is to display GW’s “commitment to global education” and act as a reference point for current and prospective students, faculty and other partners who may want to know more about their international opportunities.

“Our community benefits from our proximity to and relationships with major international institutions,” she said.

She added that the International Services Office, which oversees international programs and advising and visa processing for international students, is also redesigning its website to make the page more “user-friendly and content-rich.” In 2016, officials said they would explore expanded international student resources on campus after faculty raised alarm that GW’s support lagged behind other universities.

“The research and educational opportunities that are designed to foster understanding and knowledge that crosses national boundaries are critical to our academic mission,” Provost Forrest Maltzman said in an email.

Experts said almost all universities aspire to be viewed as global – because companies seek candidates with a global understanding – and the website may make the University appear more mindful of its international efforts, which can be attractive to prospective students.

Philip Altbach, the founding director of Boston College’s Center for International Higher Education, said as universities appear more “global,” international students may become more interested in the school. International students have become a highly coveted population because they often pay full tuition and bring new perspectives to campus.

Altbach said the website will increase GW’s visibility to universities and researchers abroad, serving as a one-stop shop for international resources.

“Everybody wants to be seen as a global institution,” Altbach said. “Quality means global.”

In 2013, the University set a goal to increase the percentage of international students to 12 to 15 percent of the undergraduate population – and 25 to 30 percent of the graduate population – by 2022. Last fall, the percentage of international students enrolled at the University dipped slightly following years of growth.

In 2016, officials introduced a video project featuring promotional videos for international students to show prospective and accepted foreign students about the global community at GW.

Altbach said the website may also give GW an edge when it comes to international and national rankings. The website may show international college ranking organizations that GW is committed to providing resources, he said.

“It can’t help but improve it,” he said. “It looks nice and it consolidates the information. It makes the University look better by putting it all in one place.”

Sara Dumont, the executive director of American University’s study abroad office, said a university should want to show that their students have been exposed to other communities, cultures and ideas because graduates with experience abroad make them more attractive to employers.

“There’s been a recognition, certainly over the last 10 or 20 years, that students need to be prepared to work in societies and economies that are now truly global,” she said. “No matter what they choose to do as their eventual career, they’re going to be involved with the rest of the world.”

Dumont said that a website like GW Global can raise a university’s reputation, which can lead to more fundraising and can attract students and faculty.

“When a university is known around the world it becomes more known in it’s own country. It just has a bigger profile,” she said. “When an institution has a bigger profile, other advantages come along with that.”

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