Dean's Message

International students are integral to the iSchool experience

Anind K. DeyI recently had the pleasure of traveling to China for the first time since before the pandemic. My trip centered around the annual iConference, a gathering of leaders from more than 120 iSchools around the world, but it also offered an opportunity to explore new places, catch up with old friends, and sample some amazing food. The biggest highlight of all was the people I met, including several alumni of the UW Information School.

I went to dinner with a group of MSIM alumni in Beijing, and it was inspiring to hear them rave about their experiences in Seattle and what their iSchool education has done for their lives and careers. Most of them graduated about a decade ago, and their stories reflected how instrumental the MSIM program had been in helping them get the jobs they wanted and in preparing them to become leaders and managers down the road.

During my trip, I also met with students and gave presentations at four top universities across China, and at each stop I encouraged students to apply here. Along with alumni networks overseas, our connections to higher education institutions are our best pathways for increasing the iSchool’s pool of international applicants to all its programs. International students comprise a majority of our residential MSIM program, and in recent years we have seen more international applicants to other programs as well, particularly Informatics.

International students enrich our classrooms while they’re here, and many of them stay after they graduate, adding to our state’s workforce. By bringing the best and brightest students from other countries to the iSchool, we add to the UW’s reputation as one of the top global universities. We also help meet our state’s demand for information technology professionals. While that demand will only keep growing in the coming years, the United States’ falling birth rate means that the number of college-aged domestic students is declining. The growth of our state’s economy depends on its flagship university producing talented, qualified workers, regardless of whether they come from Seattle or Shanghai.

When they come to the U.S. for their education, international students take a leap of faith. They face challenges securing visas, assimilating to our culture, and dealing with forms of systemic racism that they’ve never experienced at home. With the support of our advising staff and encouragement from faculty, they persevere through all of that to get an education that sets them up for fulfilling careers, whether they stay here or return home after they graduate.

At our recent Convocation celebrating the class of 2024, I was again inspired by meeting the families of our international students. I spoke to many who had flown from China, India and elsewhere, and they were full of gratitude. They spoke about what our programs have taught their students, how their experience has helped them mature, and the opportunities that come from graduating from our school. It was a welcome reminder of the reasons we work in higher education.

Anind K. Dey
Dean and Professor
June 2024