CLEVELAND, Ohio – More than 150 U.S. colleges, including eight in Ohio, have pledged to increase their participation in study abroad programs as part of Generation Study Abroad, a new initiative led by Institute of International Education.
The institute plans to double the number of American college students studying abroad to about 600,000 by the end of the decade. According to its data only about 10 percent of undergraduates study abroad while in college.
The number of Americans studying abroad has increased over the years – it’s more than tripled in the past two decades – but recent year-over-year growth has been modest, on the order of 1-4 percent annually, Inside Higher Ed reported. At the same time that overall study abroad participation has increased, the average duration of study abroad programs has decreased, with much of the growth in study abroad being in programs of eight weeks or less.
The institute has committed $2 million for the initiative and is raising funds for a Study Abroad Fund to provide scholarships to college and high school students and grants to institutions, it said in a news release.
The institute is seeking at least 500 colleges willing to increase study abroad participation rates, it said in its release. Later phases include mobilizing 1,000 high school teachers and engaging 10,000 alumni and students.
Case Western Reserve University, Heidelberg College, Miami University, Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, University of Toledo, Wright State University and Xavier University, are among the 156 who have committed to the cause.
CWRU is raising an endowment for study abroad scholarships with a goal of giving out $100,000 in awards each year, Molly Watkins, the executive director of international affairs, told Inside Higher Ed. The university has increased its study abroad participation by about five percent per year for the last two years and has a goal of further increasing undergraduate participation from 28 percent to 50 percent by decade’s end.
“It’s a cultural shift,” said Watkins. She noted that a lot of the steps university is taking to try to achieve its goal – things like working with departments to map out course plans showing how students can study abroad and still fulfill their major requirements – are not unique to the university. Yet she hopes that the combined effect will be significant.
“We’re talking about it more, we’re promoting it more, we have increased our marketing efforts,” she said. “We’re talking about a study abroad club, where our study abroad alumni get really involved in the study abroad process. We’re doing a lot of collaborations, we’re working with our undergraduate research office on research opportunities abroad, we’re working with our career services office on international internships, we’re working with our engineering school on co-ops. We’re looking at creative ways that students can have international experiences. We have so many things going on that the conversation is changing.”
Data released on college support of military veterans: The Institute of Education Sciences has published results from the first nationally collected data on colleges’ interactions with military students.
The data, from the 2012-2013 academic year, found 96 percent of institutions enrolled service members, former military personnel and their dependents.
Among those, 79 percent reported providing customized information to individual military service members and veterans about both the military and nonmilitary financial education benefits available to them, and 82 percent reported providing an office or staff member for military service members and veterans.
But fewer provided additional support services specifically for military service members. The report said 44 percent offered financial aid counseling, 27 percent offered academic advising, 27 percent offered career planning services, 22 percent offered mental health counseling and 17 percent offered academic support/tutoring.