The International Projects Office was developed out of UW–Madison’s partnership with Nazarbayev University (NU), an English language research university in Astana, Kazakhstan, that was established in 2010. UW–Madison is a member of NU’s original group of strategic international higher education institutional partners. The partnership’s first service contract was signed in 2011. The focus of UW’s work with NU has been to connect the experience and expertise of UW faculty and staff with NU faculty, administrators, staff, and students to help build a sustainable institution by investing in people. At its core, the UW–Madison partnership with NU was, and continues to remain, a capacity-building project fundamentally informed by the Wisconsin Idea—the notion that universities exist to support and contribute to the development of the societies in which they are situated.
UW–Madison is formally a partner to NU’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS) and works closely with SHSS on academic program development, faculty research and teaching capacity, and administration and student support services within the school. Additionally, UW–Madison advises and assists other NU units and programs, including its library and Offices of the Provost, Student Affairs, Career Advising, and Registrar Services. Since 2014, UW has hosted 30 to 60 NU undergraduates each summer for a study abroad opportunity through its Visiting International Student Program. The newest component of the UW–Madison partnership with NU is the collaboration between NU’s School of Engineering and UW–Madison’s College of Engineering, which began in 2016. This work consists of facilitating bilateral faculty exchanges as well as providing external consultation regarding graduate admissions.
Overall, the impact of the partnership on the UW–Madison campus has been extensive—it has facilitated collaborative relationships across more than 60 academic and administrative units, involved approximately 300 faculty and staff, coordinated more than 100 visits to Astana, and introduced 150 Kazakhstani students to UW students and the academic and cultural opportunities offered on campus.