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New administrator to grow offshore enrollment at UTA

Tuesday, June 5, 2018 • Media Contact: Herb Booth

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Curtis Andresson started at The Univeristy of Texas at Arlington last week as the vice provost for international affairs. We asked him about his journeys around the world and what brought him to UTA.

After spending much of his professional life in the Far East and Australia, Andressen looked at the geographical map of his life and decided that, for him, the Middle East was a big, white area marked as unknown. Instead of accepting the job cards Andressen had been dealt, he decided his career path needed to shift to include the Middle East and accepted the Marubeni Chair in Social Sciences at Qatar University.

Curtis Andressen

Curtis Andressen started recently as UTA's vice provost for international affairs.

“It was a culture shock and change for me,” Andressen said. “What I realized in this land where the culture is very different – men and women were in separate classes, women were clothed head to toe and men were very, very polite – is that people are people. Those students wanted the same things that students all over the world wanted – skills they can use in the marketplace and bright futures for themselves and their families.”

Andressen advocates the belief that higher education is a commodity like energy or electronics.

“I think the world – especially Asia and Australia – have come to this realization,” Andressen said. “We have no problem marketing tourism or manufacturing as commodities, as things that can be sold. Why shouldn’t we treat higher education in the same way? More and more people are seeing higher education as a part of the marketplace.”

India and China are the largest contributors to UTA’s international enrollment. He said students from India have been attracted to engineering but also become entrepreneurial while earning their degrees.

“UTA is doing well now but we can do even better,” Andressen said. “China has undergone so many changes in the last couple of decades. It used to be much poorer, more agrarian. There were very few cars 30 years ago. Now, everyone seems to have a car. There’s been an emergence of a middle class and with that rise in wealth comes a need and desire for higher education. They’re very hungry for higher education.”

Andressen said another goal will be to increase UTA’s global visibility. He will connect with universities overseas, pair UTA researchers with colleagues across the globe and suggest creating and attending joint conferences.

“These efforts build trust and networking among the professors and their colleagues,” Andressen said.

UTA currently ranks No. 20 in the nation in overseas enrollment, which is impressive.

“That’s great,” Andressen said. “But there isn’t anything saying that we can’t do better. UTA can have an even better global reputation. We should be aiming for the stars.”

He offered an example from the University of Melbourne.

“Australia is good at this,” Andressen said. “That country has recognized that higher education is a commodity that people all over the globe want.” He said about 38 percent of the student population at the University of Melbourne comes from foreign shores.

He said international students also bring an economic weight while they’re here in this country earning their degrees.

The National Association of International Educators’ latest analysis shows that the 1 million international students at U.S. colleges and universities contributed nearly $37 billion and supported more than 450,000 jobs in the U.S. economy during the 2016-17 academic year.

“By and large, these international students get their degrees and return to their home countries,” Andressen said. “But while they’re here, they buy groceries, attend events, live here. All that money is money that stays here and impacts wherever the students reside.”

Andressen was previously a faculty member in international relations at Flinders University in Australia and visiting researcher at National Cheng Chi University in Taiwan, Valencia University in Spain, and Chuo and Ochanomizu universities in Tokyo.