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UST's Greater Things International Vision meeting national need through global action

English majors from Soochow University (Taiwan) attending class in UST's School of Education with Dr. Ana-Lisa GonzalezLaunched in fall 2022, the University of St. Thomas-Houston’s strategic vision Greater Things presents four guiding visions; one of which is to bolster international partnerships that enrich the student experience, academic programs, and opportunities to expand UST’s collaborations with partners throughout the world. This recommitment to international partnerships and education came at an opportune time when global mobility was just reemerging from the COVID pandemic. This vision includes outgoing and incoming international mobility and UST is on the cutting edge.

Through Greater Things, UST serves national need as well as St. Pope John Paul II's call for Catholic universities to engage in international cooperation in order to “confront the complex problems facing modern society” and to strengthen the Catholic identity of all Catholic Universities.” 

Remaining a Competitive Destination for Int’l Students

This past August, the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC) released new recommendations about how the United States can remain a competitive destination for international students. Greater Things has placed UST in a strategic position to not just follow these recommendations but to be a national leader. The report notes that to reverse the decline in international students in the U.S., universities need “to adopt an updated understanding of international student mobility to accurately describe the expansive educational avenues of today’s international student.” This includes diversifying the ways in which international students encounter UST. Historically, this was largely limited to traditional student recruiting efforts and undergraduate student exchange opportunities. 

Motivated by Greater Things, UST administration, faculty, and staff have worked together to host visiting international student groups on internships and research fieldwork, expanded the frequency of virtual and in-person lectures with sister universities, created pathways for enrollment in online classes from abroad, and built the infrastructure for graduate degree pathways for students from sister universities. Dr. Ulyses Balderas, Associate Professor of International Studies, has been a UST pioneer in the field of Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL). He has co-taught several online courses in collaboration with multiple faculty members at sister universities in the International Council of Universities in the Spirit of St. Thomas Aquinas (ICUSTA). These courses have exposed hundreds of students outside of the U.S. to UST’s high caliber instruction and student care.

Launching First Int’l Student ‘Transfer Pathway’

Dr. Hans Stockton and Assistant Professor Mark Amelang at John Paul II Junior College in Belize for initial MOU signing in February 2023Another AIRC recommendation is to support greater portability of international student educational credentials and transfer opportunities. Last year, UST launched its first international student “transfer pathway” that provides for the smooth articulation and transfer of graduate credits from a sister university to a UST graduate program. The first pathways were established with the Catholic University of Vendée (ICES) for the MBA and MA Diplomacy and Strategic Affairs (MDSA) programs at UST. The first cohort of three French students from ICES will finish their MDSA studies at UST this December. Similar yet more comprehensive pathway initiatives are currently underway with partner universities in Taiwan and Mexico.

Under the leadership of Dean Nicole Walters and Assistant Professor Mark Amelang, the Kolbe School of Innovation and John Paul II Junior College (Belize) launched another new initiative this fall in which Belizean associate degree students take a portion of their degree program in cybersecurity through online courses in the Kolbe School.  The first Belizean cohort includes five students who never could have dreamed of being able to take classes at an American university.

UST faculty interested in engaging in international collaborations are encouraged to contact Dr. Hans Stockton, Associate Vice President of International Relations & Engagement, at stockth@stthom.edu.