College signs national pact to boost study-abroad participation
SUNY Oswego has signed on with the newly launched Generation Study Abroad program, agreeing to increase the college’s participation in study abroad opportunities to 20 percent of undergraduates—1 in 5—by 2019.
Citing the challenges of rapid globalization, the Institute of International Education announced the five-year Generation Study Abroad in early March. Its ambitious goal: bringing leaders in education, business and government together to double study-abroad participation nationally, reaching 600,000 students by the end of the decade.
Oswego joined 150 higher education institutions in 41 states as early partners in the effort, including large universities such as Cornell, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Purdue, as well as four other SUNY colleges and universities.
Joshua McKeown, Oswego’s director of international education and programs, said the help of new short-term options for study-travel, the Global Laboratory summer-research program and other initiatives have increased participation in the last five years to 15 percent of the college’s undergraduates from about 5 percent, and Oswego is poised to make the next move upward.
“I think this is the perfect time to take on this challenge,” McKeown said. “As an institution we have moved deliberately and strategically towards expanding education abroad over the past decade, embedding it well into the curriculum of all four schools and colleges, creating more experiential programs abroad, research and service opportunities, and ways for our faculty to teach and lead students abroad in every discipline where there is interest. This represents a further growth opportunity that we are ready for as a campus.”
The college has sent students to 40 countries the past seven years, from Argentina to United Kingdom, from Mexico to China.
“We recently made the top ten list nationally (IIE’s Open Doors report) for master’s level study abroad enrollments, regularly are at or near the top rank for SUNY comprehensive college study abroad enrollments, and were cited by the Middle States reaccreditation team for our international programs,” McKeown said.
IIE found in its annual study conducted with the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs that with 295,000 students in credit and non-credit programs abroad in 2011-12, less than 10 percent of U.S. college students participate.
“Globalization has changed the way the world works, and employers are increasingly looking for workers who have international skills and expertise,” said Allan Goodman, president of IIE. “Studying abroad must be viewed as an essential component of a college degree and critical to preparing future leaders.”
Through partnerships with governments—early signatories included France, the German Academic Exchange Service and Norway’s Centre for International Cooperation in Education, as well as the U.S. State Department—and donors in business and community organizations, IIE hopes to overcome financial and other barriers to broader participation of undergraduates in study-abroad initiatives.
McKeown said he believes the culture shift in study abroad—from expensive option to achievable necessity—is well under way at Oswego. The key to achieving the Generation Study Abroad goal, he said, has been support from across campus and from top administrators for a wide range of sustainable study-travel programs.
“I know with the right commitment to creative programming, student financial assistance and incentives for faculty involvement, we can reach that 20 percent participation threshold,” he said. “My counterparts at other institutions are sometimes envious of the great support my office receives from, and relationship we have with, senior leadership. It really creates the right climate for growth, innovation and experimentation, reasonable risk-taking and for us as an institution to be committed more than ever to being a genuinely internationalized campus.”
(Posted: Mar 06, 2014)