The University of Virginia’s College at Wise has signed an agreement to become a sister institution to the Universidad de los Andes in Chile.
This agreement opens a number of doors for students and faculty alike, said Witold Wolny, director of international programs.
“The idea of sister institutions is that we exchange services, not money,” Wolny said. “We begin sending one or two students per year or semester. They pay tuition to Wise and take classes at the sister institution where their grades will transfer back to Wise.”
The students only have to pay room and board in the country they are studying in, which is usually cheaper, Wolny said.
Universidad de los Andes will place the students who study there with families in the region, allowing them full immersion in the culture, according to Wolny.
When considering a sister institution agreement both institutions involved go through an in-depth process.
The colleges have to notice a need on their campus for a sister institution and decide what areas of study would most benefit from the union, Wolny said. From there, the institutions must see what countries meet their expectations academically and socially, in the interest of the students.
The school officials then make the decision to contact the other institution and visit the school and discuss the decision with the international committees and staff before finally signing the agreement, Wolny said.
Founded in 1989, The Universidad de los Andes is near the city of Santiago, Chile and is currently ranked as the third college in the country, which made it one of the top choices for UVa-Wise.
In addition to looking at the academic performance of a potential sister institution, the college also looks into the safety of the campus and country as well, according to Wolny.
“Chile was the first choice, because it’s probably the safest country in Latin America,” Wolny said.
The opportunities for students also may include an interactive experience between upper level language classes on the campuses, said Christine Weissglass, assistant professor of Spanish. This opportunity could allow students to interact with students at the sister university on a personal level.
The International Committee is currently in talks with a university in Scotland for another potential sister institution agreement.