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MSU Billings plans five-college language partnership with new $500k grant

MSU-Billings language
Posted at 6:50 PM, Jan 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-23 11:22:23-05

BILLINGS — Hola, bonjour, konnichiwa—all ways to say 'hello' to a new $500,000 grant awarded to Montana State University Billings by the U.S. Department of Education.

“This is the first grant of this kind in the state of Montana," said Dr. Paul Foster, executive director of international studies at MSU Billings.

The three-year grant will be used to expand current offerings in the department and spread them throughout four other colleges across eastern Montana and northern Wyoming to create the Yellowstone Consortium of International Studies and Foreign Languages. Centered at MSU Billings, the consortia will include Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, Little Big Horn College in Crow Agency, Dawson Community College in Glendive, and Miles Community College.

“We look at Eastern Montana as an area that's really under-served," Foster said. "We have great regional community colleges there but a lot of the students in that region can't necessarily pick up and go somewhere for two years or four years for these programs. So if we can meet them at home on-site where they're living and working, I think that was a plus.”

Through the expansion, students will be able to study Korean, Chinese and Japanese at their home college for a year, then have the option to go abroad.

“One of the biggest barriers for students to study abroad is the finance, so this grant will allow us to award really nice scholarships to these students to lower the cost to the point where they can afford to spend a year in Japan or Korea or China or Taiwan studying these languages," Foster said.

Right now, MSU Billings has partnerships with about 20 different partnerships throughout the world. This is the second time the department has received the grant and the largest amount it has received.

“Our goal is really to bring the world to Billings and make sure that Billings and our students are ready to be engaged in the world," Foster said.