Oswego 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.

Oswego representatives meet with staff at Democratic Republic of Congo's Medical Center MwindaCiting 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 10 list nationally (in 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.

The Institute of International Education 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 the institute. “Studying abroad must be viewed as an essential component of a college degree and critical to preparing future leaders.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Research and travel—The summertime Global Laboratory is one way SUNY Oswego is increasing the number of students who travel overseas as part of their education. Here, biological sciences faculty member Webe Kadima, third from left, meets with staff members at the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Medical Center Mwinda and students, including three from SUNY Oswego: Jesse Vanucchi, second from left; Amanda Shedd, standing second from right; and Yvaline Dorce, seated right.

(Posted: Mar 12, 2014)

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