Skip to content

University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

New program opens door for global undergraduates

In an effort to enhance the global learning opportunities for all students at Carolina, a new program will help increase the number of international students studying on campus.

UNC Study Abroad will administer the new Global Visiting Students at UNC program, which will accept 20 international undergraduates this fall and increase to 40 and 60 students, respectively, the second and third years. Global Visiting Students will study at Carolina for up to two semesters; they will largely live on campus and will pay Carolina’s out-of-state tuition. Graduate students may participate in the new program.

“Any program that brings international students to campus will make Carolina a more inclusive community,” said Executive Vice Provost and Chief International Officer Ron Strauss.

The Global Visiting Students at UNC program is different from a student exchange program. In exchange programs, Carolina sends an equal number of students to a global institution as that school sends here. It’s a tricky balance, said Strauss.

“We’ve heard from partners that they’ve had students interested in Carolina who were unable to find a place in the exchange,” said Strauss. “This opens another door for them.”

Both the 2011 Academic Plan and the 2009 Strategic Roadmap for Globalizing UNC recognized a need to increase the number of international students on campus. The roadmap noted that a key ingredient for a top-ranked global university is the percentage of international students and faculty members who are part of the campus fabric and core activities.

“Our undergraduate applications from international students have increased 68 percent in the last two years,” Strauss said. “The percentage of international students in the incoming class is usually only 1 to 2 percent.”

The state legislature sets an 18 percent cap on out-of-state students for each entering class, and that group includes international students.

“The cap limits the number of international students we have on this campus, so Global Visiting Students at UNC is a way to welcome global undergraduates who won’t be here a full four years or seek a degree here,” said Bob Miles, associate dean for study abroad. “This allows a significant addition to the number of international students in the classrooms without reducing the number of out-of-state students who can get a Carolina education.”

Roughly one-third of Carolina students spend time abroad, Miles said. Global Visiting Students at UNC also gives domestic students who are unable to study abroad a greater chance of participating in Carolina’s global community by getting to know and work with students from other nations .

“Increasing the number of international students at UNC means those students who are unable to go abroad will have the opportunity in their classrooms and dorms to have a meaningful global academic and cultural experience here on campus.”

Katie Bowler, director of global relations, agreed that international students benefit the academic and culture climate at UNC by adding a diversity of world views. In 2012, Carolina enrolled 1,667 international students from 103 countries, as well as 219 students through non-degree and exchange programs, she said. Only 453 of those students were undergraduates.

“It’s about being able to engage different viewpoints on global issues,” she said. “If there are areas facing challenges, for example, a more diverse class will enable us to learn directly from those who are from, or knowledgeable of, those areas.”

Global Visiting Students at UNC will benefit from special programming, Bowler said. “The program is unique in that we expect to create a sense of identity as well as friendship and networking support.”

Carolina ranked 42nd among the world’s top 400 universities in 2012–13, according to the London-based Times Higher Education magazine, and 41st in the 2012 Academic Ranking of World Universities published by the Center for World-Class Universities and the Institute of Higher Education of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China.

Strauss said these rankings are impressive, and that people all over the world look at such rankings in deciding where to study.

“Carolina is well-perceived as a university that is hospitable for international students,” he said. “It’s a great place to study and get an outstanding social, cultural and academic experience.”