Friday, February 27, 2009

Australia’s Growth in International Education

Despite a slowing world economy, Australia continues to be a destination for study abroaders worldwide — growing by more than 20 percent in 2008.

Education minister Julia Gillard told The Australian newspaper that 543,898 international students attended colleges, universities and institutes in Australia last year, making education the country’s third largest export. The industry contributed just over $9 billion US to the nation’s economy.

The Australian reported the Aussie universities are particularly inviting to Asian students and that the falling Australian dollar has made study abroad there more affordable in the past year. Indeed, institutions in Australia saw nearly 55 percent more students from India in 2008 over 2007, with the total number reaching 97,035 for the year.

The 127,276 students from China made up the largest single group of internationals in Australia.

Whether the increases will hold as the recession deepens in 2009 still isn’t known, but education officials believe their industry may weather the downturn more resiliently than most.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Podcast: Arcadia’s Story of Success

Here’s this week’s Smart Study Abroad podcast, featuring a conversation with Lorna Stern Laniak and Amy Greeley of the Center for Education Abroad at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pa.

Arcadia boasts the nation’s No. 1 participation rate in study abroad programs among U.S. masters-level institutions, as measured by Open Doors 2008 from the Institute for International Education. The school runs 100 programs in 14 nations and recently earned national attention when it became one of the few institutions in the nation to require its students to get off campus for at least one term. Most go abroad, though Arcadia students can also satisfy the requirement with domestic off-campus study.

As a bonus, we have video above of Arcadia’s 2008 semester excursion to Granada, Spain.

Today’s Video: UCLA in Germany, Austria

UCLA offers video on its summer abroad programs in Berlin, Munich and Vienna.

New Push for Federal Aid for Abroad Study

The push for a five-fold increase in the number of U.S. college and university students going abroad is getting a renewal in the Senate.

Against the backdrop of President Barack Obama’s advocacy of greater global engagement by Americans, Sens. Richard Durbin, D-Illinois, and Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, reintroduced the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act on Wednesday.

The bill seeks to provide funding to bring about the Lincoln Commission’s recommendation, adopted in 2005, that 1 million Americans be studying abroad yearly by 2015. A version passed the House in 2007 but stalled procedurally in the Senate.

While 55 percent of high school students say they plan to study abroad in college, only about 1 percent actually do. And, according to the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, almost two-thirds of those who do go abroad study in western Europe.

The bill reintroduced on Wednesday also seeks to increases study-abroad opportunities for underrepresented student groups and to increase study abroad in nontraditional locations where most of the world’s population increase is taking place.

Prospects for passage are unclear in when Congress and the president are focused on the recession. Any approval of funding for study abroad initiatives would also have to go through the appropriations process.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How Much Do They Study, Abroad?

The last time I took students abroad, in 2007 to study the media in France and Italy, I was blessed with a generally well-behaved, earnest group of young people who took the academic goals of the travel course seriously. 

But while we visited Florence’s Accademia on a beautiful and warm May morning, one young woman from our group excused herself from the tour, took a seat on the curb outside, tucked her head between her knees and threw up.

She was (and still is) a good kid — always in class on campus, taking her studies and her relationships with faculty seriously. But she missed a once-in-her-lifetime to chance to see Michaelangelo’s David becaused she'd drank too much the night before. 

Students who put more emphasis on “abroad” than on “study” aren’t a new problem in the field. At last week’s Forum for Education Abroad conference in Portland, several faculty and providers offered advice on how to get students to take their learning more intentionally while abroad.

The challenge, according to Hillary Lieberman Link, dean for international programs at Barnard College, is that many students consider study abroad the same way that the Russian author Mikhail Bakhtin considered carnival: “While carnival lasts, there is no other life outside it.”

“I think of students who come back from study abroad, and they say it changed their life and they’ve become entirely new persons,” said Link. “But while they were abroad they were in their own world, completely separate in many ways from the academic life that they live on their home campus.”

Efforts to get students to take the “study” in study abroad as seriously as they should are hindered by institutional constraints that keep schools from dedicating as much time to study-abroad preparation as they'd like. And then there is the culture of U.S. undergraduate life, in which some — but certainly not all — students want to go abroad partly because they hope there won’t be much study involved at all.

Even for those students who don’t overdo drinking and other less-than-academic pursuits abroad, there are problems related to culture, education philosophies and more than can hinder learning abroad.

Stephen Ferst of the Education Abroad Network, which offers long-term programs in Asia, Australia and New Zealand, said his organization helps students go abroad with reasonable expectations of what they’ll encounter when taking courses at universities in other nations.

Ferst said the indicators of academic success in study abroad include the extent to which students take a deep approach to learning and whether they’ll make use of peer support groups among American and host-nation resources. Another factor is the level of diligence students apply to meeting task requirements at host universities.

Also, academic success abroad depends on whether students have realistic expectations of how learning and instruction happen outside the United States, which puts a heavy emphasis on student satisfaction with the educational process. In many other nations, the focus is less on student learning and more on faculty research productivity.

Lilli Engle, president of the American University Center of Provence, said that her organization takes students who have had at least four semesters of French before wanting to study in France. Still, the American students show tendencies to not immerse in the culture and to view French culture through an American lens.

“Despite all the work we do, they seem to be less and less prepared for the kind of cultural engagement that they’re going to have,” she said.

To compensate, Engle says her group has American students take an ongoing orientation course throughout the abroad experience that helps bridge the differences between U.S. learning and European teaching styles, as well as linking students with cultural resources to ease their transition into French life.

The AUCP program has helped students make a better transition and improve their learning. And that’s helped along by what Engle calls her students’ “romantic” nature.

“They can seem themselves as part of an adventure,” she said. “They are inspirable, meaning that they can set standards high and they will rise to the occasion.”

Institutions Pursuing Abroad Partnerships

Karin Fischer in this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education reports that U.S. universities are getting more serious about pursuing formal relationships with overseas institutions. (Subscription required.)

The arrangements, Fischer reports, “involve multiple departments and disciplines, square with institutional goals, and even tackle global challenges like sustainable agriculture or clean energy.”

Among the institutions currently working on such relationship are Washington University, Indiana-Purdue and New Mexico State. But, Fischer finds, the relationships are often difficult to establish and maintain.

One hurdle is finances. Washington’s relationship with partners in India was bolstered by a $10 million gift from a trustee. Lack of resources, especially in budget-cutting times, keeps more institutions off the global-education stage.

“Differing expectations can derail deals,” Fischer writes. “And in designating preferred partners, college leaders risk alienating professors who don't see the relevance of overseas work to their fields or who are frustrated that an institution they work with was passed over.”

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Risky Business of Study Abroad

PORTLAND — Plenty of issues other than the economy are keeping study abroad professionals, parents and students awake at night. 

Two of them under discussion at last week’s Forum for Education Abroad conference here were the mental health and risky behaviors of the more than 200,000 U.S. students who are taking part in study abroad each year. Institutions are particularly wondering what they can do to help students who struggle with emotional and behavioral issues when they're thousands of miles from home for several weeks or months.

“We’ve had many students who get there and decide that the stress is just unbearable for them,” said Mike Brody, director of health and counseling at Portland’s Reed College. “It’s exacerbating underlying conditions for them, and they come back.”

The mental health of abroad students, as well as their alcohol consumption and substance abuse, were the top concerns of study abroad professionals in the Forum’s 2008 State of the Field study. Dozens of participants Friday at a panel on the topic recounted stories of problems caused by drinking and other risky behaviors, as well as student mental health.

Reed and Washington State University are among many schools that have started prescreening students for warning signs of potential mental health and behavioral issues that students may face on study abroad.

“We’ve never prevented a student from traveling,” said Brody. “What we have done is have difficult conversations with families and talk about shared responsibility — the need for the family and the student to understand that not only is this inherently risky because travel is risky, but risky for this student because of the health situation that they bring to the table.”

Patricia Maarhuis, a prevention coordinator with Washington State’s Alcohol and Drug Counseling, Assessment and Prevention Service, said her institution is focusing on a range of concerns for students before they leave the country. 

“We have to differentiate between students who are coming in with very serious mental health concerns versus those students who are dealing with anxiety or maybe a little bit of an eating disorder,’’ she said. “And then there are a lot of students who have conduct issues around substance use. 

“Those are three very different groups who are going to disclose and seek out services on a different level.”

Maarhuis’ office conducts predeparture programming for Washington State students who are planning abroad experiences. The programs include risk assessment and motivational interviewing to help shape student expectations of what they'll encounter when outside the country.

Many students, for example, believe that alcohol consumption is rife among American students who are studying abroad and that semesters are little more than “booze cruises.” Maarhuis said her office presents evidence that students’ peers are drinking much less than they may think.

The programs, Maarhuis said, help the students who take part.

“The first 10 minutes we really work hard at building rapport,” she said. “We’re not trying to take their fun away. This isn’t about eliminating all of the risks. We try to identify some really exciting things that they can do while keeping their harm down. 

“By the end, they’re quite pleased and glad they went through it.”

It Won't Change Your Life

Elizabeth Redden of Inside Higher Education covers a panel at the Forum for Education Abroad conference that sought to take on a misconception of the field: “Rarely does a conference session for a professional association feature the opposite goal — to thoroughly rip apart the rhetoric and deconstruct a field’s founding myth.”

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Haba na Haba: Part 1

Part 1 of 8 parts to Reynold Whalen’s "Haba na Haba," an award-winning student document produced while he was studying abroad at Washington University in St. Louis. The film was one of the undergraduate research award winners at the Forum for Education Abroad conference this week in Portland:

Haba na Haba: Part 2

Part 2 of 8 parts to Reynold Whalen’s "Haba na Haba," an award-winning student document produced while he was studying abroad at Washington University in St. Louis. The film was one of the undergraduate research award winners at the Forum for Education Abroad conference this week in Portland:

Haba na Haba: Part 3

Part 3 of 8 parts to Reynold Whalen’s "Haba na Haba," an award-winning student document produced while he was studying abroad at Washington University in St. Louis. The film was one of the undergraduate research award winners at the Forum for Education Abroad conference this week in Portland:

Haba na Haba: Part 4

Part 4 of 8 parts to Reynold Whalen’s "Haba na Haba," an award-winning student document produced while he was studying abroad at Washington University in St. Louis. The film was one of the undergraduate research award winners at the Forum for Education Abroad conference this week in Portland:

Haba na Haba: Part 5

Part 5 of 8 parts to Reynold Whalen’s "Haba na Haba," an award-winning student document produced while he was studying abroad at Washington University in St. Louis. The film was one of the undergraduate research award winners at the Forum for Education Abroad conference this week in Portland:

Haba na Haba: Part 6

Part 6 of 8 parts to Reynold Whalen’s "Haba na Haba," an award-winning student document produced while he was studying abroad at Washington University in St. Louis. The film was one of the undergraduate research award winners at the Forum for Education Abroad conference this week in Portland:

Haba na Haba: Part 7

Part 7 of 8 parts to Reynold Whalen’s "Haba na Haba," an award-winning student document produced while he was studying abroad at Washington University in St. Louis. The film was one of the undergraduate research award winners at the Forum for Education Abroad conference this week in Portland:

Haba na Haba: Part 8

Part 8 of 8 parts to Reynold Whalen’s "Haba na Haba," an award-winning student document produced while he was studying abroad at Washington University in St. Louis. The film was one of the undergraduate research award winners at the Forum for Education Abroad conference this week in Portland:

Friday, February 20, 2009

FEA Conference in Portland

The fifth Forum on Education Abroad conference is now underway at the Portland Hilton Hotel. About 730 faculty, administrators and programmers are in sessions through Friday at the hotel, and the state of the economy seems to be the No. 1 topic of discussion.

Economy Hovers Over Abroad Forum

PORTLAND — The hallways and sessions at this week’s Forum on Education Abroad conference here are taking on the air of the ’92 Clinton campaign. One issue seems to overshadow most all conversations.

It’s the economy, colleagues.

One panel, moderated by Robert Guitierrez of the Institute for International Education, tried to convince dozens of attendees to discuss the many challenges facing study abroad programs in the coming years. But almost all talk turned to the impact the sinking economy is having and will continue to have in coming years.

Even with the dollar continuing to improve against foreign currencies, making study abroad less expensive for Americans, institutions are facing new economic challenges in mounting and maintaining program.

“The economic shift has moved from the students,” says Cornell’s Richard Gaulter, “because the dollar is doing better, to the institutions, which are now having to deal with budget cuts to programs across the board.”

Institutional cuts already are in evidence at FEA, where Brian Whalen, the organization’s president said that record attendance of 730 administrators, faculty and professionals would likely have been at 1,000 or more if institutions hadn't already cut travel funds to make the budget crisis many are navigating.

Some institutions have already seen significant dropoffs in study-abroad enrollments, as parents and students retrench in light of significant debt loads being taken on by many students simply to finish their degrees on campus. But several schools represented at FEA report increases in enrollment for overseas study programs, sometimes substantially so.

Regardless of whether their numbers are up or down, nearly everyone at FEA is looking with trepidation at the coming year as the recession deepens and the students and institutions face difficult choices.

Kim Tunnicliff, director of the international office at Augustana College in Illinois, says his school is seeing a small uptick in enrollments for its summer travel programs. It’s just a matter of more effectively selling the benefits.

“It's not a hard sell, particularly since we see more and more students who studied abroad in their experience,” Tunnicliff said. “So it’s easier to tell the high school senior and his parents that study abroad isn’t a peripheral luxury. It’s something that’s absolutely essential.”

While students and parents are still interested in study abroad, the challenge is in presented programs that create the greatest economic value. Many Forum conferees say their institutions are looking for to faculty-organized and -led programs in an effort to cut costs even further than the improving dollar would otherwise permit.

“It's time for us to be bold in stating the value of study abroad and to draw on the research that’s clearly demonstrated the impact of our programs,” Whalen said. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

SSA Podcast: French Polynesia Edition

Here’s our first Smart Study Abroad podcast, featuring an interview with my colleague Sharon Wilkinson, an associate professor of world languages and culture at Simpson College. Sharon is in the process of setting up a semester in French Polynesia and took a break from her busy teaching schedule at Simpson to talk about the program and her ideas for setting up semesters abroad.

Sharon’s in her third year at Simpson, having come to the college from West Virginia University and having earned her Ph.D. at Penn State in 1995. In the podcast, she talks about the college’s new relationship with the University of French Polynesia, the work that goes into setting up a semester-length study abroad program, and tips she’s learned from her experiences.

Forum Conference Getting Underway

The annual conference sponsored by the Forum on Education Abroad gets started Wednesday, with more than 700 international-education faculty, administrators and professionals descending on Portland, Ore., to meet on the theme of "Being There: Teaching and Learning Abroad".

Keynoters this year include Peter Chilson of Washington State University who will read from his nonfiction on travels between the border between the Ivory Coast and Mali, and Mike Reddin, a retired London School of Economics faculty member who will challenge conference participants to examine their assumptions about study abroad experiences.

Smart Study Abroad will be at the conference through its end on Friday, so check back frequently in the coming days for updates and multimedia.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Today's Video: Boston University Abroad

Boston University has new video promoting its 75 study abroad programs, with this one focusing on its Venice Studio Arts Program.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Student Expectations of Abroad Experiences

Colleges and universities should do more to examine the quality of study-abroad experiences, say two Emory University researchers who think social learning theory may be a key to understanding whether students benefit from their time out of the country.

Mark McLeod and Phillip Wainwright argue in a piece to be published in the March edition of the Journal of Studies in International Education (subscription required) that many institutions are assessing their global programs solely on the basis of participant numbers.

But McLeod and Wainwright say few schools pay attention to whether their students are having positive experiences while abroad.

To address this, McLeod, a clinical psychologist, and Wainwright, director of Emory’s Center for International Programs Abroad, conducted focus groups with Emory students near the end of their study-abroad experiences in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Paris. They found that a key measure of how students rated their abroad studies was how well the perceived realities of the experience measured up to what they thought they would be.

Psychologists call these measures “expectancies,” and they’re a key component of the much larger psychological concept of social learning. One of the most important expectancies, according to the researchers, is locus of control — the connections people see between what they do and what happens to them. Individuals who see greater connections are seen as having internal loci of control; those who see few connections have external loci of control.

McLeod and Wainwright argue that it’s possible that students may flourish differently in study -abroad situations based on their loci of control:
“The overwhelming consensus of findings from studies employing social learning theory is that internally controlled persons do better in unstructured situations where they are left to their own devices to solve problems, in contrast to externally controlled individuals who do well in structured situations where they are told specifically what to do and what to expect.”
Emory students illustrated this general finding in McLeod and Wainwright’s focus groups. Students who struggled abroad frequently had high expectations of their experience before they left home, only to find those expectations deflated by language barriers and cultural differences. One student referred to study abroad as “sheer terror and sheer confusion at first.”

Whether students found their studies abroad to be successful was frequently linked to how well they were able to reshape their expectations to meet their real situations. Those who were able to adapt reported higher levels of self-confidence, changes in self-perception and changes in their perceptions of the world.

Colleges and universities don’t need to limit study abroad only to internally controlled students. But they should do more research on this issue and tailor prep courses and actual experiences to the psychological needs of students, according to McLeod and Wainwright.

Students who have external loci of control may need more structure in their preparations and travels than those who have a greater connection psychological between their actions and the results of their actions. 

In short, institutions may need to do a better job of tailoring their programs to the needs of their students.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Today's Video: Taga Taisha Inner Sanctum

Japan’s Taga Taisha is normally off limits to visitors, but students from the Japan Center for Michigan Universities recently won access. They've posted this brief video of their visit.

New Books in International Education

A new book examines how study abroad experiences shape first-time learners, while another soon to be published examines best practices in the field.

The Handbook of Practice and Research in International Education will be published on May 25 by Routledge. Ross Lewin, the director of study abroad at the University of Connecticut, has edited the volume, which brings together academics, administrators, practitioners and policy makers from around the world.

The book’s 30 readings address a number of questions:
  • What is meant by global citizenship and global competence?
  • What are the philosophical, pedagogical and practical challenges facing institutions as they endeavor to create global citizens?
  • How is study abroad and global citizenship compatible with the role of the academy?
  • What are the institutional challenges to study abroad, including those related to ethics, infrastructure, finances, accessibility, and quality control?
  • Which study abroad programs can be called successful?
Meanwhile, Joshua McKeown, director of international education and programs and an instructor in global and international studies at SUNY-Oswego, is author of The First Time Effect, a study of the impact of study abroad on the intellectual development of students. The work is just out from SUNY Press.

SUNY Press’ Web site says McKeown “shows that for some students — particularly those without substantial prior international experience — study abroad is associated with significant gains in intellectual development. For those students who have traveled abroad previously, the same does not hold true. It is those students who lack meaningful international exposure who seem to benefit most from studying abroad.”

The book’s first chapter is available in pdf at the SUNY Press Web site.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Today's Video: I Miss Ice in My Drinks...

...and other observations from Kent State University students who are spending a term in Dresden, Germany.

Study Abroad — in Iraq

Officials at the University of Wisconsin-Madison say they’re exploring a new partnership with an Iraqi university that could ultimately lead to study-abroad opportunities in that country for American students and faculty.

University officials say they’re planning a teleconference on Friday with the U.S. Embassy to talk about a relationship with Tikrit University, located about 100 miles north of Baghdad.

“We believe that this is an exciting opportunity for both of our institutions,” said Gilles Bousquet, dean of the university’s Division of International Studies, in a news release from Madison. “Education will play a key role in rebuilding Iraq, and UW-Madison has a strong tradition of international service and collaboration.”

Potential collaboration between Tikrit and Madison could take place in medicine, agriculture, journalism, law and engineering.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rising Dollar Helps Students Abroad

The economy may be in the tank, and colleges and universities may have bigger challenges in convincing students to go international.

But there is good news: Those students who are going abroad are finding that the dollar's rising value against foreign currencies is making their travel less expensive.

The British pound, whose value was over $1.87 last August, is now worth $1.44. The euro is at $1.29, down from nearly $1.47 last August. The currencies of many popular destinations for U.S. students — the Mexican peso, the Australian dollar and the Chinese yuan — also are down against the dollar in recent months, sometimes substantially so.

Translation: It's cheaper than it's been in a long time for to eat, live and learn in cities around the world. As the world economy remains in the doldrums, so the thinking goes, stable currencies such as the dollar will remain good values on the world market.

University of Nevada-Reno student Jake Bells told the Sagebrush newspaper at his campus that he was pleasantly surprised to find that the most expensive part of his study-abroad experience in China was his plane ticket.

“I could have brought $100 and lived fine for almost two months,” he said. “Everything there was super cheap compared to here. You could get a full course meal there for like $5.”

European destinations will still cost students more than other locations around the world. To get the biggest bang for the buck, Dominique Nelson, a study abroad programming official at Nevada-Reno, says students should consider developing nations such as Costa Rica, India and Mexico.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Budget Cuts May Batter New Mexico Program

Cuts in the state budget may pose a threat to study-abroad programs at the University of New Mexico.

Thomas Bogenschild, director of the university’s Office of International Programs and Studies, told the Daily Lobo newspaper that cuts could cost his office about $160,000, which could close the program forever.

“A 43 percent reduction in legislative support for OIPS will fundamentally cripple and likely destroy international study opportunities for all UNM students,” he said.

Bogenschild and students at the university have been lobbying the New Mexico Legislature to keep funding the program, which not only helps students plan study-abroad experiences but also assists international students who come to the Albuquerque campus.

Today's Video: The Trouble With Packing

It's every student’s study-abroad nightmare: How to cram all of your stuff into a small bag to be as mobile as possible while out of the country? The all-too-often answer, as illustrated here by markquitevis, is to not use a small bag — or even one.

Students Chipping In For Students

Colleges and universities use mandatory student fees to pay for newspapers, yearbooks, health clubs, transportation systems, campus entertainment, computers, networks and much, much more.

So why not help finance study abroad programs in the same way? That's the question a number of institutions are answering by adding small fees onto the bills that students pay each semester. 

The fees range from as little as $1 per semester to $14 and help finance faculty development of international programs and scholarships for students to study abroad. They address the leading concern of study-abroad professionals — that there's simply not enough money available for developing adequate study-abroad programs and for helping increasingly financially strapped students to take advantage of the opportunities that exist.

Students at Illinois last year voted to institute a $5 fee that all students must pay to finance study-abroad programs. The fee in its first year generated $150,000 per year that helped 177 students take part in winter-break and spring-term programs.

Other institutions that have similar fees are Kennesaw State in Georgia, Georgia State and Texas at Austin.

The monies raised by the fees aren't designed to pay entirely for students who wish to go abroad. Farrah Bernardino, director of study abroad programs at Georgia State, told Inside Higher Education:
I wish we had more money to give them, but the first question that they ask, they come here and say, “I know I want to go abroad. Now how do I pay for it?” To be able to tell them that our institution has a scholarship just for study abroad, at least it’s a starting point for them to be able to pay for it. It can’t cover the cost of the program, but we start with this scholarship.
At Texas, the scholarships averaged $1,300 per student last year — about enough to pay for round-trip airfare to most study-abroad destinations.

What’s not clear is whether the existence of fees actually lead more students to study abroad. While hundreds of students benefit from scholarship support, it wouldn't be unusual for hundreds of students to study abroad anyway.

It could be that students, knowing that they’re helping pay for study abroad whether they wish to or not, might be more inclined to consider taking part in such programs.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Today’s Video: Study Abroad at Georgia Tech

Just posted is new video of programs at Georgia Tech University:

Europeans and Joint Degree Programs

While American institutions hold to a traditional vision of study abroad — in which U.S. students either take part in an institution-sponsored travel experience or attend a university outside the United States and transfer credit back to their home school — European institutions are exploring joint degree programs with American schools.

American colleges and universities also are building joint programs with European schools, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, but European students are much likely than their American peers to pursue such programs. (Subscription required.)

The great advantage of the joint program, according to advocates, is that they more effectively integrate students into the life and culture of home institutions than do short-term or semester-long programs.

The Chronicle reports that European schools are more advanced in this process than their American counterparts because of a decade-long Bologna Process. As part of the process, more than 40 nations are harmonizing degree cycles in advance of the creation of a European Higher Education Area by 2010.

The growth of English-language programs and growing focuses on internationalization have also spurred joint programs.

“In Europe, the idea of having more transferable skills and creating more mobility through these joint programs has been going on for much longer than in the United States,” Daniel Obst, director of membership and higher-education services of the Institute of International Education, told the Chronicle.

Joint programs may hold more currency in Europe than in America partly because U.S. students bear almost all of the cost of study abroad, whereas larger institutional and governmental support is available for Europeans.

Matthias Kuder of Berlin’s Free University says American universities need to promote joint degree programs by establishing “political vision that inspires students to study abroad” and creating frameworks for greater acceptance of such degrees.

Kuder notes that American students, if joint programs were properly promoted, might find that studying in Europe in some instances might actually be cheaper than stateside study.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More on the Study Abroad Gender Gap

One of the most-talked-about issues in study abroad is the 2-1 ratio of women to men who are willing to study outside the United States. Melissa Quinby, the assistant director of off-campus study at Bowdoin College in Maine, is trying to figure out why.

Quinby recently wrapped up a study of gender differences in international education at Bowdoin, Brown and Brandeis and offers five hypotheses that might explain why woman are much more likely to go abroad than men:
  • Majors that appeal to men — such as mathematics and the sciences — are less applicable to study abroad than are those that appeal to women — such as languages and the humanities.
  • Men may be more influenced by their peers to stay stateside than are women due to their level of maturity and development.
  • Men tend to have more athletic commitments that keep them on campus than do women.
  • Men have less experience in international travel and work.
  • Men also may be more interested in career paths that don't include international travel.
Quinby stresses that her study presents hypotheses only and, as we academics frequently say, more research is necessary.

“Studies have been done over and over again and nobody can answer this question,” she says.

Today's Video: Seamester

Newly posted at YouTube is a slide show in two parts on the Seamester program.

Here's Part 1...

...followed by Part 2.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pound Cake = China

Juan Blanks wanted to study abroad in China. She needed $3,000. There weren't enough scholarships or grants available from or through Ohio State University, where she's a recent graduate.

Give up on the dream? Not a chance.

Blanks used her grandmother's pound cake recipe to get her over the Pacific Ocean. She drove from Columbus to her home in Dayton, Ohio, on weekends to cook about 30 pound cakes a week — and selling them for $15 to $25 each to raise the cash for the experience.

"I could get a loan, but a loan you have to pay back anyway, so why not try to raise it yourself?" said Blanks, who studied food science while a Buckeye.

Blanks’ story is one of many among students who are trying to figure out how to finance study-abroad opportunities in a tough economy. Most students have to raise the funds themselves, and while many resort to loans to do so that’s becoming a tougher avenue to finance overseas study.

Ohio State officials say one way to improve the affordability of study abroad is to combine the study programs with service-learning opportunities. In one case, the university was able to send a group to students for only about $1,000 over the recent winter break.

“Some people were able to go on this trip and not others,” said Chris Barrington, an Ohio State junior. “Even if they wanted to go on other trips they couldn’t participate because it was expensive. This one was substantially less.”
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