Visiting International Student Program weighs expansion

The Yale Visiting International Student Program, which began last year and currently accepts students from Mexico, Singapore and Hong Kong, is looking to partner with institutions in Japan and Brazil as well.

Yale is negotiating Y-VISP partnerships with Waseda University in Tokyo and several institutions in Brazil, said Kathryn Bell, assistant director of the Center for International Experience and director of Y-VISP. Bell said the one-year program received positive feedback from its first round of participants, and that by adding new schools the University is hoping both to grow the program’s enrollment and broaden its geographic scope. But since visiting students are not eligible for Yale financial aid, she said Y-VISP must primarily consider whether its potential partner institutions are able to finance a year abroad for their students.

Bell said the program is “very close” to formalizing an agreement with Waseda University. While Yale has also considered collaborating with institutions in Europe, Bell said tuitions at those schools are significantly lower than at their U.S. counterparts — making it more difficult to convince European institutions to invest in a student’s year abroad.

“It really comes down to how education is funded in different countries,” Bell said. “Some institutions can fund their own students, while some find sponsors willing to help,” she said

During its first year, Y-VISP enrolled 16 students from universities in two countries — the National University of Singapore and the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Mexico. This year, the program expanded to include the University of Hong Kong, and enrollment increased to 20 students.

As Yale continues to develop the program, administrators and students alike said that Y-VISP should remain relatively small. Dean of International and Professional Experience Jane Edwards said Y-VISP was not designed to become a large program, and Yale College Dean Mary Miller said this year’s “modest expansion” has been “just right.”

Monica Flores ’13, a visiting student from the Monterrey Institute of Technology, said Yale should be careful to preserve the individual attention and “sense of family” in Y-VISP as it looks to expand the program.

“It’s good that it expands as long as more peer liaisons and advisers come on board,” she said. “Right now, we have three liaisons and eight advisers for only 20 students, so we each get a lot of attention and opportunities for one-on-one conversations.”

Bell said advisers and peer liasons have been “crucial” in helping Y-VISP students adjust to academics and social life at Yale. She noted many of the students enroll in advanced undergraduate and graduate level courses in the discipline they are already pursuing at their home universities.

Rachel Leung ’13, a visiting student from the University of Hong Kong, said she appreciates Yale’s “intense” and “vibrant” learning environment.

Both Leung and Flores said the most rewarding part of their experiences at Yale so far has been interacting with other Yale students. Leung said she was pleasantly surprised when “others hold the door open for [her],” and Flores said she has enjoyed getting involved with extracurricular activities such as a cappella and intramurals, which do not exist at her home university.

Miller announced the creation of the Visiting International Student Program in November 2010.

Comments