Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Falling Numbers Hit Syracuse’s Programs

Add Syracuse’s study-abroad program to the list of those struggling to keep up enrollments in recent months.

The New York university says total abroad enrollment is down 8.5 percent — from 2,287 to 2,093 — over the past year due to the recession, declining enrollments from non-Syracuse students and changes in the university’s budgeting system.

The upshot is that Syracuse’s study-abroad office is now $1 million in deficit for the year, and officials are looking for ways to make up that money.

“We tend to be among the more expensive of the programs, but that’s part of the quality we provide,” says Jon Booth, the executive director of SU Abroad. “In this down economy, people are struggling, and we think to some extent, people figure they can’t afford the quality. We have to prove the quality is worth it, and then provide more financial aid to make it possible.”

Monday, March 30, 2009

Up-and-Down Economic Impact

The Institute for International Education and NAFSA are out with a new study on the impact of the recession on study-abroad programs

Most of what's been discussed here and in other forums has been based on anecdotal evidence, but the new IIE/NAFSA study by Chris Musick of the University of Mary Washington in Virginia shows a nearly 50-50 split among institutions as to whether enrollments are up or down for Summer 2009.

The study is based on responses via Survey Monkey from 162 colleges, universities and providers. Of those participating, 21 percent say their summer applications are up from a year ago, while a 27 percent say they’re at about the same place as in 2008.

Another 18 percent say they’re experiencing a slight decline from last year, but 34 percent say their numbers are down by 10 percent or more.

When it comes to Fall 2009 applications, the news is somewhat brighter: About 65 percent of respondents say they are seeing numbers hold steady or increase.

Musick’s study asked respondents to talk about factors that are impacting their programs. One answered:
We have extended deadlines and lowered prices where we could, but have not seen much of an effect. We just had to cancel all three spring quarter-abroad programs and two of our three faculty-led short-term trips scheduled for the March break due to insufficient enrollments. This was done in spite of extensions to deadlines, the offer of additional scholarship funds, and in one case, in spite of revisions to a short-term faculty-led program to bring the cost down by over $1,000. 

The economy is hurting us in two ways. First, the generally poor economic outlook has caused many families to say, “We’re only going to spend money on what we have to and study abroad is not a ‘have to.’” Perhaps more importantly for my programs, however, is the fact that students just can’t get the student loans like they used to be able to get. Not only can’t they get new loans for study abroad, but they also can’t increase the loans they may currently have to cover my study abroad programs. My students rely heavily on being able to get these loans in order to participate in study abroad so this is really hurting us.
Participants in the study also offered ideas on how to stimulate demand for abroad programs. One particularly aggressive promoter of study abroad noted:
We have advertized (sic) more, done more personal follow up, spent time with students to see if there was any way we could make this happen financially for them if they were struggling. We are also thinking about offering a few more scholarships — but these funds are limited. We have also worked with our financial aid office to see if there is any possible way to get some of the left over aid applied to summer for these students. Fall ’09 and Spring ’10 look about the same for us. It is really this summer we are struggling with. We work mostly with providers but we do have 7 summer programs we run on our own and we will have to cancel 1 of them and the others are going with enrollments that are about 20% less.

The fully NAFSA study by Musick is available here (registration required).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bowdoin’s Housing Imbalance

Study-abroad applications aren’t necessarily down at Bowdoin College in Maine, but what college officials are calling an “imbalance” in abroad applications is causing a housing crunch for next fall on campus.

The Bowdoin Orient reported Friday that 55 more students at the elite college will be abroad in Spring 2010 than will be this coming fall. And, as a small college, that means many student housing units will be getting little more crowded.

The college’s Off-Campus Study Office had earlier considered requiring that some Spring 2010 travelers move their time abroad up by a semester, but officials ultimately decided to leave things as they are.

“We have picked up three volunteers who should be able to make that switch,” Director of Off-Campus Study Stephen Hall told the Orient. “Apart from that we will just plan to deal with the projected imbalance...as well as we can.”

Facebook for Study Abroad

Matthew Cossolotto at Study Abroad Alumni International has hit on an idea to fuse two passions of college students — social media and study abroad. 

The result is the just-launched SAAI social networking site, which allows study abroad students, faculty and staff to join the community, post profiles and photos, communicate and create subgroups. In essence, it’s a Facebook for international education. And it’s free.

“This is where the building of a community of global citizens begins,” Cossolotto says.

Today's Video: Colorado Promo

The University of Colorado has a new promotional video for its study abroad programs now out on YouTube, making use of photo montages and student interviews. Katie O’Block produced the program.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sheltering Campus Globalization

President Julianne Malveaux of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C., is in USA Today this morning with a call to shelter on- and off-campus globalization programs from the brunt of higher education cuts prompted by the recession. 

“The economy may force us to cut budgets,” she writes, “but we will have to increase our creativity to carve a permanent place out for global studies in the college curriculum, whether that means flying halfway around the world, or looking for world experiences close to home.”

$25M to CCNY Will Support Study Abroad

City College of New York has received a $25 million gift from Bernard Spitzer to support many of the school’s programs — including its study abroad offerings. Spitzer is a New York real estate developer who is the father of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. City College President Gregory Williams calls the gift “historic and transformative.”

New JRIE is Out

In case you don't frequently check the blogroll down the right side of this page, the April 2009 issue of the Journal of Research in International Education is out this week (subscription required). A rundown of the contents:
  • Glenn Odland and Mary Ruzicka, “An investigation into teacher turnover in international schools.” 
  • Éanna O’Boyle, “Whispers from within: Students’ perceptions of the first year of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme in an international school.” 
  • Genaro Castro-Vázquez: “Immigrant children from Latin America at Japanese schools: Homogeneity, ethnicity, gender and language in education.”
  • James MacDonald: “Balancing priorities and measuring success: A triple bottom line framework for international school leaders.” 
  • Steven Carber: “What will characterize international education in US public schools?” 
  • Book Review: Equal Rights to the Curriculum: Many Languages, One Message by Eithne Gallagher.
  • Book Review: Academic Achievement — The Case of Hong Kong by Jennifer Jun-Li Chen 
  • Book Review: Double-shift Schooling: Design and Operation for Cost-effectiveness (3rd edition) by Mark Bray.
  • Book Review: Education and Training in Europe by G. Brunello, P. Garibaldi and E. Wasmer.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Slowdown Hits UConn

The economy was the big focus at last month’s Forum for Study Abroad conference in Portland, and while some schools contended they still were seeing growth in student participation there was still fear that the economic meltdown will lead students to pull back from going overseas.

New evidence of that comes from the University of Connecticut, where The Daily Campus reports that numbers are down 5 percent from a year ago. UConn Study Abroad Director Ross Lewin says the university is emphasizing that many study-abroad locations cost the same amount as studying on campus for a term, but students are balking.

“I’ve been planning on studying abroad for so long,” Lindsay Washbond, a fourth-semester art history major told the newspaper. “I felt like it was really going to happen, but now my family is really struggling because my dad owns his own small business, and now the chances of me being able to go are pretty slim.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Home School? How About World School?

Public TV and radio über travel guy Rick Steves has a new radio hour on American families that take their own children out of school for up to year to pursue family study-abroad opportunities. 

The prime guests of the hour are Steve and Toby Rhine of Salem, Ore., teachers themselves who pulled their three children out of their local schools to spend eight months seeing all of the major continents of the world. Toby Rhine says she didn’t consider the experience one of home schooling but rather “world schooling.”

The Rhines have written a book on the experience, A Brilliant Teacher, now out from Sawtooth Press.

The program can accessed from the Web site for those who have Windows Media. The Steves radio program is also accessible as an iTunes Store podcast.

Pushing Study Abroad in STEM Fields

Study-abroad advocates have long faced a challenge in convincing more science, technology, engineering and mathematics students to take part, as many of those students have tightly sequenced and demanding programs that rarely permit the flexibility that a short-term or long-term abroad program demands.

Now the Institute on International Education is offering ideas on expanding participation by STEM students in a new white paper that explores models that have worked in some institutions.

Only 16 percent of 241,000 U.S. students who go abroad come from the STEM fields, according to IIE’s most recent Open Doors report. That compares with 23 percent of all students who study in one of those disciplines.

The irony is that a much larger portion— 40 percent — of 624,000 international students who come to the United States to learn are in the STEM fields. And 70 percent of all the international scholars who are in the country come from those fields.

But the IIE report points to several programs that could serve as models for improving study abroad in several of the STEM fields:
  • The Global Engineering Education Exchange is a consortium of more than 80 institutions around the world. During the past year, more than 200 students — more than half of them American engineering students — have taken part. IIE says the program has been particularly successful at encouraging American female engineering students to study abroad, even though they represent only about 20 percent of all U.S. engineering students.
  • IIE also has been managing a Central European Summer Research Institute with National Science Foundation support since 2005. The program helps science and engineering student pursue research internships in several European countries. Evaluation of the program is just getting underway.
  • Private programs, such as the Whittaker Foundation and the Winston Churchill Foundation, also have been providing scholarship monies for STEM students to pursue international education.
  • Research Internships in Science and Engineering in a 2-year-old program for American undergraduates to work in labs with German doctoral students during the summer months. The RISE students needn’t be proficient in German, as the primary language in German labs is English. And the American students get to participate in the creation of basic knowledge in their field of choices while also being immersed in the local culture.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Internationalizing the Politicians

Shakespeare once famously remarked that the way to begin to improve the world was to “kill all the lawyers.” In today’s world, we might say, a bit more humanely, that the place to begin is to “internationalize all the politicians.”

That’s the argument in today’s Christian Science Monitor from Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Japanese Studies at Temple University’s Japan Campus in Tokyo, and Andy Zelleke, a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and codirector of its Center for Public Leadership.

While business elites have long recognized the value of thinking and acting in global terms, Dujarric and Zelleke say, American politicians are still creatures of the “all politics is local” credo that former House Speaker Tip O’Neill coined so many years ago.

If our politics are to be reformed, they say, study abroad will have a major role in play in changing the thinking of the politicians:
It starts with education. More and more, corporate executives have received part of their schooling abroad. The first wave of this process brought young foreigners to America for professional or graduate degrees, but it has grown to include studying in numerous other nations. American students, previously fairly immobile, are now actively encouraged to study abroad and work overseas.

The private sector itself has evolved rapidly. Though multinationals have been around for centuries, major corporations are far more international than a few decades ago. Managers are more likely today to have been stationed overseas and to have firsthand experience working with different cultures. This is particularly visible in the United States.

Into the early 1980s, many Americans in industry, finance, and corporate law could aspire to reach the top of their organization without having to set foot outside the U.S. Today, ambitious young men and women in American business and law schools are expected to acquire international credentials.

But politicians, in the U.S. and throughout the world, have been left behind. If they dream of getting into politics from a young age, many see spending a year or two abroad as a waste of time, preferring to invest their energy in the university chapters of political parties. Upon graduation, they tend to look for positions at home where they can seek the favors of powerful domestic patrons and campaign contributors.
The piece raises another provocative point for debate: By law, politicians must come from the citizenry they represent. But doesn’t that encourage the kind of insular thinking that ultimately harms a community’s ability to act in a global world?

What if we allowed non-Americans to hold staff positions or even run for office? Yes, I realize that raises all sorts of loyalty and security issues. But isn’t the concept of loyalty undergoing change in a postnational era?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Solving the Troubles with Teaching Arabic

U.S. and Arabic institutions could improve cooperation and create significant growth in the numbers of American students studying in the Arabic world, according to a new white paper just out from the Institute on International Education and the Hollings Center.

IIE and Hollings Center authors said American institutions sent no more than 2,200 students to Arabic countries in 2006-2007 — less that 1 percent of all U.S. students who went abroad that year. More than half of those who did go to the Arabic world studied in Egypt.

By comparison, 138,000 American students traveled to Europe in 2006-2007.

The paper’s authors note some hopeful signs for increases in Arabic study abroad: There’s been a 127 percent increase in the numbers of American students pursuing Arabic-language courses since 2002, accompanied by a 43 percent increase in student travel to the Arabic world since 2004.

To promote even further increases, the paper calls for:
  • Preparing an expanded inventory to include all institutions in the region.
  • Creating an organization of like-minded Arab world institutions to address issues of common concern, including academic quality, credit transfers, and institutional collaboration.
  • Expanding Arabic teacher training and development of supplemental teaching materials.
  • Awarding study abroad scholarships for U.S. students to study at any institution in the region.
  • Organizing U.S. campus study tours for underrepresented Arab-world institutions.
  • Sustaining ongoing dialogue between U.S. and Arab-world participants on the issues at workshops and seminars.

The Trouble with Teaching Arabic

There’s been a push for better U.S. initiatives in teaching Arabic languages and cultures, especially since 2001, but presenters at a Michigan State University conference now underway in Washington, D.C., say the outcomes so far are uneven. 

Elizabeth Redden has the full story at Inside Higher Education. With many instructors of Arabic in nontenured or part-time positions, colleges and universities are facing challenges in giving the subject the emphasis it needs.

“Our education system is shooting the nation in its foot,” says R. Kirk Belnap, director of the National Middle East Language Resource Center and a professor of Arabic at Brigham Young University.

Dialogue on NAFSA/Obama Initiatives

As reported here a couple of days ago, NAFSA is out with a new policy statement applauding President Obama’s push to renew American global leadership and describing a number of benchmarks by which that renewal can be measured in the coming years.

Andy Amsler, the media relations associate at NAFSA, tells me today that NAFSA is inviting comments on the policy statement and further dialogue on U.S. global leadership at the NAFSA blog. There’s already a number of contributions there, so give it a look.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

IIE Conference Underway

Today’s the day of the Institute for International Education’s Best Practices Conference in New York City. If (like me) you’re not there today, you can at least check out a copy of the conference program.

Any readers who are in NYC and would like to make reports are welcome to do so.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

NAFSA and Obama’s Agenda

With President Obama calling for a renewal of the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world, NAFSA has released its vision of what that global leadership should lead to.

The full statement is available at NAFSA’s site, but the specific calls by the organization include:
  • Everyone who graduates from college in this country should have a basic understanding of the world beyond our shores and be proficient in a foreign language.
  • At least one million American college students — four times the current number — should study abroad each year in high quality programs around the globe and for academic credit.
  • International students and scholars who wish to pursue their academic objectives in our country should be able to do so, and we should ensure that they feel welcome in our midst.
  • International exchange and volunteer-service programs should be significantly increased, and Americans should be challenged by renewed calls to international service for the sake of their country and the world, as President Kennedy did nearly 50 years ago.

New on the Bookshelf

It’s time to again check out some of the new titles in study abroad and international education. Some books of note include:
Enjoy your reading... 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Shout Out

My thanks to Mark Overmann, one of the bloggers at Working World, for promoting this blog at his site. If you’re not already reading Working World, you’re missing another good conversation on study- and work-abroad issues.

Mark, a 2002 Notre Dame graduate who studied in France before taking his undergraduate degree and going on to teach English in China, is currently assistant director and senior policy specialist at the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange

With Sherry Mueller, he’s the author of the book version of Working World, designed to help professionals enter the world of international education. It’s available in paperback and Kindle versions from Amazon.

Study Abroad Alumni International

Over at the International Higher Education Blog, David Comp tells about a new group called Study Abroad Alumni International that is designed to support the field by providing an organization of students and graduates who've been impacted by their abroad experiences.

Matthew Cossolotto, a former Congressional aide and corporate communication executive, is the founder and president of SAAI. Cossolotto studied in Sweden during his junior year in college and is also a Peace Corps alumnus. 

SAAI’s Web site includes the program’s goals and objectives. It looks to be a good program to tell your students about once they’ve come home the first time abroad.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Today's Videos: Getting Students On Board

It slays me how often I encounter students who, despite all that my school (and maybe yours too) does to encourage students to go abroad, have no idea of how to go about studying abroad. Especially for those with no direct experience and no family experience in studying abroad, it's still an intimidating idea to even think about getting a passport and getting on a plane to go overseas.

Here are a couple of videos that try to break down the mystery. It’s not a bad idea to create one for your own campus, especially in the era of cheap video shooting-and-editing technology.

'Given What I Know Now...'

Columnist Maureen Downey writes in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she’s learned the value of taking one's time in college to volunteer and study abroad. The lesson’s come from her daughter, who’s doing that rather than sprinting through, as Downey says she did.
Others in my generation share the concept of college as a four-year interlude between high school and work. In the General Assembly, lawmakers often complain about college students taking five or more years to complete degrees. They're portrayed as slackers trying to prolong adolescence and forestall adulthood.

But given what I know now, I would stretch out my college years. I would take a gap year between high school and college to work in a service project or political campaign. It might be disconcerting to watch my peers go off to leafy college campuses while I was refurbishing playgrounds in the hot Miami sun or canvassing voters in the middle of an Iowa snowstorm, but it would be worth it.
The college-as-putting-off-adulthood attitude strikes me as one of the major deterrents to persuading more students to pursue study abroad: I’ve found that my students’ parents, most of whom didn’t study abroad (indeed, in many instances they didn’t attend college at all or for more than a couple of years), are supportive of study abroad. But in many instances they don’t yet see it as an essential element of a higher education.

(I found Downey’s full piece on Lexis-Nexis (subscription required), but it’s not yet available on the AJC Web site. It should be up later today or within a few days.)

Friday, March 13, 2009

How Long is Long Enough?

At Working World, Mark Overmann chimes in with more thoughts on the long term vs. short term study abroad debate. Long-term study abroad, of course, makes the likelihood of cultural immersion that much greater, but short-term programs are growing in popularity nationally due to lower cost and better fit with student and faculty schedules and life demands.

Overmann noted in an earlier post that while the model of the long-term program is one that lasts for a summer or semester, the yearlong study-abroad experience has virtually dropped off the map. Less than 5 percent of American students go abroad for an academic or calendar year, according to IIE’s Open Doors study for 2008.

While Overmann confesses a preference for long-term over short-term study abroad, he does find that the quality of short-term programs is growing:
In the end, I think, it seems we should just be happy that 1) more and more short term study abroad programs are transcending the “cultural tourism” label and being designed as effective, immersive experiences, and 2) more and more students are indeed going abroad—and if a short term experience is all that they want/have time for/can afford, then certainly no one should deny them that.
I’ve led three short-term programs in the past and am about six weeks from departure on a fourth. (At the same time, as I write this post I am preparing a semester-long study abroad proposal in another window of my laptop.) My finding is that, if properly designed, the short-term course can be an effective learning experience for students. Yes, you do (and should) leave some time in the travel portion of the course for tourism. But you also need to include structure, reflection, connection to course materials and meetings with locals. And you can accomplish this over the course of even a few days abroad.

I've gotten better at this over time, but the payoff is that students — far from finding the “study” a chore in short-term study abroad — find the short-term experience to be one of the defining moments of their education. Perhaps I’ll feel differently after completing a long-term experience, but for now I am believer in the potential power of short-term study abroad.

My findings are purely anecdotal, but there is research that supports the idea of the transformative short-term study abroad course. Scholars working in the SAGE project at the University of Minnesota have found no connection between the length of a study abroad experience and global engagement later in life

Indeed, I've been an advocate on my campus for requiring a brief, faculty-led study abroad experience of freshmen during the spring break of their first year in college and building the cost into the total structure of tuition and fees. Yes, the odds of an experience of such brief term becoming more akin to tourism are higher. But they can also reduce barriers to later study abroad by overcoming fears about safety and cost and isolation.

(Ohio State President Gordon Gee doesn’t go quite that far — but he did last week say that all students at the university should, at a minimum, have a passport. And that’s not a bad idea, nor a terribly expensive one: Institutions ought to require that students submit test scores, transcripts and a copy of the data page of their passport as part of an application packet.)

Preparation, focus, commitment to the academic goals of the course, connection to the institution’s mission — those are the elements that will make short-term study abroad a good alternative in helping students prepare for the global community.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

They’re Americans, Not Canadians

Memo to American students abroad from Amy Elizabeth Smith: Tell the truth when your hosts ask where you’re from. You’re Americans, not Canadians.

Smith, an associate professor of English at the University of the Pacific writing in the new Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required), says she’s noticed too many American students denying their nationality when asked abroad.

Smith spent a semester teaching in Chile and found a good many students who admitted that they’d passed themselves off as Canadians when encountered by locals. The American students are afraid that they’ll be identified as part of the Ugly American that’s such a part of world popular culture.
It’s precisely because of the Ugly American stigma that culturally sensitive students from the United States need to stand up and be counted. Americans aren't all ignorant, aggressive, and badly dressed, but the stereotypes will stand unchallenged if Canada gets the credit for our better-behaved students.
What study abroad is supposed to do — give students a greater sense of independence, not just of action but also of thought — is to give students the ability to critically evaluate the criticisms of their culture and politics and to understand the cultural differences in the purposes of conversation in different lands. But too many students simply choose to hide their selves from the locals. A vital learning experience is lost.

Smith adds:
We don’t need our students to parade the streets of Beijing or Oslo waving American flags. When telling the truth would be genuinely dangerous, then by all means, Vancouver is as good as any port in a storm. But in general, the best policy anywhere is to blend in, respectfully. That is the heart of the matter. Lying about one’s nationality is disrespectful.

Going Global, Going Green

When colleges and universities began working toward a four-fold increase in the numbers of American students studying abroad, Rodney Vargas found a downside.

“We were kind of worried,” he tells Elizabeth Redden in Inside Higher Education. “What about the environmental impact or the social impact of all these students?”

So Vargas and others are using the increased emphasis on internationalization to also build awareness of green living. Organizations such as Living Routes or the Green Passport Program at Vargas’ University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are offering students opportunities to study abroad in “ecovillages” around the planet.

Living Routes says it provides academic and experiential semesters for students by placing them in locations in India, Scotland, Senegal, Israel, Brazil and Mexico that emphasize sustainability, green development, women’s empowerment and organic agriculture.

Green Passport promotes ways that students can reduce their carbon footprints while overseas. Originally developed at North Carolina, Ithaca College and Middlebury College, the program is now open to any student anywhere.

The photo on this post is of a a young Ugandan girl taking care of her baby sister while her parents earn a living teaching. The photographer, Allyson Fauver of Marlboro College, participated in Green Passport and won an Abroad View award for her photo work.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Out of This World

When space shuttle Discovery lifts off its Cape Canaveral launch pad on Sunday night, it’ll have a former study-abroad leader on board.

Astronaut Richard Arnold, before joining NASA in 2004, was a science teacher at a middle school in Charles County, Md. One of his teaching experiences was leading students on a study course in Bermuda. He's also spent a semester at sea and taught in schools in Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Romania and Indonesia.

While in space, Arnold will complete the ultimate study abroad experience: He's scheduled to complete a spacewalk to attach a final solar array to the International Space Station.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Today’s Video: Susquehanna Abroad

Susquehanna University’s efforts at internationalization have been a past topic on the site. Here’s new video from the institution on its programs in various international locations.

Internationalizing Nontraditional Learners

If those in higher education consider study abroad to be an element of growing importance — if not necessity — in the flat world, then why aren’t schools doing more to convince the 40 percent of students who aren’t between ages 18-24 to take part?

The conventional wisdom is that so-called “nontraditional” learners (nontraditional even though they soon will make up more than half of all college students) can’t or won’t take part. They have bills to pay, families to raise, jobs to go to. Their days of being able to take off for three weeks or three months to discover themselves and their world are in the past.

But don’t be too fast to give up on engaging those 25 and older in study abroad, argues David Shallenberger, a professor of international education at SIT Graduate Institute, which specializes in study abroad programs.

Writing in the latest edition of NAFSA’s International Educator, Shallenberger says adult learners can be the most receptive to the kinds of perspective-changing experiences that study abroad offers. Those students may be more likely to engage the intellectual challenges of going abroad than the younger students who are at times more drawn to the “abroad” more than they are the “study.”

“By and large, they know this is not a vacation,” Shallenberger writes. “They have chosen this travel experience over other possibilities because they want to encounter the world in new ways.”

While the nontraditional learner isn’t likely to take on a semester abroad, institutions shouldn’t swear off short-term programs of two or three weeks, especially those that can be embedded in longer courses. Indeed, both DePaul University and the University of Virginia have attracted a number of part-time learners to their study-abroad programs.

And, says Shallenberger, the experiences have led some to rethink their life goals, change employment or take on leadership roles within organizations. One student of Shallenberger’s even fell in love in the host nation and married.

NAFSA Honors 5 Schools

With NAFSA’s May conference starting to come over the horizon, the organization today awarded five schools and mentioned three others for their efforts at internationalization of their campuses.

The Sen. Paul Simon Awards for Campus Internationalization for 2009 go to: Boston University, Connecticut College, Pacific Lutheran University, Portland State University and the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

The schools will be spotlighted at the NAFSA annual meeting on May 29 in Los Angeles, and they’ll also be featured in a fall report from NAFSA highlighting efforts to internationalize higher education.

Three other institutions will be spotlighted in the NAFSA fall report: Berklee College of Music, Fairleigh Dickinson University and the University of California - Davis.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Today’s Video: Inside Oklahoma State Abroad

Oklahoma State University’s Inside OSU program dedicates its March edition to the university’s study abroad programs with interviews with three students who’ve gone overseas.

Cutting Costs at Syracuse

Syracuse University in New York says it’s cutting its London study-abroad fees by $400 in an attempt to keep demand strong for the program.

The fee cut to $6,300 is a response to the strengthening U.S. dollar, which has risen to a value of $1.41 against the British pound compared to more than $2 in mid-2008.

Syracuse tuition is unchanged whether students pursue coursework on campus or abroad. The university has portable financial aid, too, unlike many institutions that are restricting the use of financial aid to their home campuses.

Other study abroad fees at Syracuse are $6,100 for Beijing, $6,985 for Santiago, and $7,400 each for Strausbourg, Hong Kong, Florence, Madrid. The fees cover transportation and housing costs while abroad.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Africa Lures BU Students

Never mind London, Paris and Rome — Africa is a destination of growing popularity among study abroaders at Boston University.

One group of students will head for Uganda this summer to complete service learning with ChildVoice International, which offers counseling and life-skills training to child-rape victims in a nation wracked by war.

“I just hope to get a more real sense of what it’s like for [the people of Uganda],” said sophomore Molly Byrd, quoted in The Daily Free Press independent newspaper at BU. “Living in America, it’s like this paradise compared to what they’re living in, and I just think it’s good to get a reality check.”

‘Get Them to Buenos Aires’

The Miami Herald’s Andres Oppenheimer chimes in with support of the Simon Foundation Study Abroad Act, reintroduced in the Senate last week. He’s particularly happy with the bill’s support of study abroad in nontraditional locations, such as central and South America.
While Latin American countries are among the leading U.S. trading partners, and a major destination of U.S. investments, only 4.2 percent of U.S. college students spend some time studying in Mexico, 2.4 percent in Costa Rica, 1.6 in Argentina, and 1.3 in Chile and Ecuador.

That’s a sad situation because people's experiences in college often mark their own — and their countries’ — future. It’s OK to have U.S. students going to London, or Rome, but it’s increasingly important to get them to Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Islamabad or Johannesburg.

Discussion: Requiring Study Abroad?

The February online poll at Smart Study Abroad asked readers to consider whether study abroad ought to be a required component of a college education. The results: 75 percent said it should be, and 25 percent said “maybe”.

Not one reader said that study abroad shouldn’t be required.

Yet study abroad is still an optional part of a undergraduate experience at the vast majority of institutions, and many on and off campus see it as an add-on that can be cut if cost or other factors intervene. Still, a few schools are requiring some kind of off-campus experience:
  • Goucher College in Maryland is one of a very few U.S. schools to absolutely require some time out of the country for its students. The program, in place since 2006, has been a recruiting plus for Goucher, officials there say.
  • As we noted in last week’s Smart Study Abroad podcast, Arcadia University in Pennsylvania requires its students to either go abroad or study off-campus at another domestic site.
  • And, as reported last week at Inside Higher Education, another Pennsylvania institution, Susquehanna University, will require that its students complete a reflection course on a meaningful off-campus experience as a condition of graduation. Susquehanna will permit its students to complete the requirement based on travel internationally or domestically, but it’s beefing up options for students to go abroad.
These are institutions of differing levels of prestige that draw students from varying economic and social backgrounds. They’ve all committed to some form of internationalization of their campuses and have taken on considerable risks in doing so.

For Goucher and Arcadia, the initiatives have paid big dividends. The jury will soon convene as to whether it will work for Susquehanna.

This forms an opportunity for discussion among Smart Study Abroad readers: 
  • What are the obstacles to adding a study abroad requirement? Certainly, economics is one, but are there others — cultural, social, philosophical?
  • The Lincoln Commission has set a goal of having 1 million U.S. college students abroad every year by 2015. Is this a reachable goal?
  • How can study abroad advocates better sell the idea that study abroad is essential and not just a frill in a cost-conscious time?
Click on the comments button below this post to add your thoughts.
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