“This is a really friendly place. Coming from cities with millions of people to a city of 16,000, students want to have that different experience,” she said, noting that few of them are interested in online programs but want to study in the U.S.
“It’s a value proposition – good programs, high employment rate of graduates and a safe community,” Pednekar said, noting UW-Stout’s 98.4% employment rate of recent graduates.
While in India, Pierson established working relationships with several institutions as part of UW-Stout’s renewed efforts and growing opportunities to recruit in the region post-pandemic. Higher education reforms in India, including more flexibility in transferring credits and degree completion agreements paired with pent-up pandemic-related demand have resulted in significant increases in Indian students vying to study in the U.S.
During this past year, India assumed the top-sending nation ranking for study in the U.S.
“It’s the right time to really concentrate efforts in India,” said Pierson, who recently was named a Fellow in the U.S.-ASEAN University Connections Initiative, a White House initiative designed to foster stronger higher education relations with eight southeast Asian countries.
India is the world’s second most populous country with about 1.4 billion people.
Other STEM-designated programs that have drawn interest include the applied mathematics and data science master’s; applied mathematics and computer science bachelor’s; operations and supply management master’s; applied psychology master’s; and risk control and safety management master’s.
New student enjoying UW-Stout experience
Most students from India will stay in the U.S. for the duration of their degree program, undergraduate or master’s, Pednekar said, not just for a semester or year. Also, most hope to find jobs in the U.S. after graduating.
U.S. nonimmigrant visa regulations permit students to work in their respective field for one to three years post-completion of their degree without needing employer sponsorship.
Vini Tapadiya, also of Mumbai, is a first-year student who arrived last fall. He chose UW-Stout because, “I liked the whole vibe and it had my program,” he said, as he led Pednekar on a tour of campus.
He is majoring in supply chain management, which he said many U.S. universities don’t offer, and plans a double major in business administration. He received a scholarship and is happy with his university choice.
“I’ve made friends here. I’ve already adapted to the weather pretty well. The campus is cozy and everything is centralized,” he said.
“Menomonie is big enough and small enough at the same time,” Tapadiya said. “I’m Stout Proud.”
On average UW-Stout annually welcomes more than 180 international students from more than 40 countries who seek degrees or participate in exchange programs. Approximately 200 domestic UW-Stout students take part in international and domestic study away programs.