In the news: Iowa universities could benefit from Branstad nomination

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Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (second from left) and Downing Thomas, the University of Iowa associate provost for academic affairs and dean of International Programs, (third from left) are shown during a 2012 trip to China. Others shown, according to the UI, were then-employees of ACT. (Photo from University of Iowa)

Article by Vanessa Miller, The Gazette

IOWA CITY — Chinese nationals account for the largest share of international students attending Iowa’s public universities, leaving administrators hopeful about the potential for their campuses of the governor’s nomination to be the U.S. ambassador to China.

“I hope it will continue the strong connections,” Downing Thomas, the University of Iowa associate provost for academic affairs and dean of International Programs, said Wednesday. “Not only for Chinese students to come here, but for all UI students to hopefully benefit from the ties and connections that result.”

Of the 8,590 international students who enrolled this fall at one of the three Iowa public universities, 88.1 percent were from Asia — with 49.3 percent from China, according to Board of Regents documents.

At the UI specifically, 2,642 students from China enrolled this academic year, according to UI International Programs statistics. At least 135 UI students last year studied abroad or took an internship or other educational opportunity in China or Hong Kong, according to Thomas.

And Gov. Terry Branstad’s nomination as ambassador could open up new partnerships and opportunities for the state’s universities.

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