EDWARDSVILE - Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has pledged to double the number of students studying abroad over the next five years as a lead partner in the Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad initiative.
SIUE joins a host of other higher education institutions – 150 in all – including Purdue University, Rutgers University and the College of William & Mary, as well as higher education associations, study abroad provider organizations, several foreign institutions or government agencies and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs are also program partners.
The result of this concerted effort, according to Narbeth Emmanuel, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, is that thousands more American students nationwide will graduate with the international experience necessary for success in a globalized world.
“We are committed to developing and establishing multiple ways for students to engage in meaningful international opportunities,” Emmanuel said. “To that extent, we believe that all our students should have the opportunity to travel abroad and discover the world around them.”
IIE has committed $2 million toward the initiative, according to IIE President Allan Goodman. The New York-based organization has also established a study abroad fund to provide scholarships to college and high school students and grants to partnering institutions.
The IIE’s overall goal is to see 600,000 students per year studying abroad by the close of 2019. A total of 295,000 American college students studied abroad in 2011-12 for-credit and non-credit programs, according to IIE and the federal government. This represents approximately 10 percent of the 2.6 million students who graduated that year with associates or baccalaureate degrees.
“In today’s increasingly global workplace, that number is far too low,” said Goodman. “Generation Study Abroad seeks to address this shortfall by bringing employers, governments, associations and others together to build on current best practices and find new ways to extend study abroad opportunities to hundreds of thousands of college students who are not currently studying abroad.
“International experience is now one of the most important components of a 21st Century resume. Our goal is to change the paradigm so that study abroad is considered an essential part of a college education.”
The organization continues to seek commitments from the following: 500 institutions pledging to significantly expand their study abroad programs; 10 institutions who require a study abroad experience in order to graduate; 10,000 alumni and students who join the initiative and promote study abroad; and 1,000 high school teachers who pledge to make their students aware of study abroad opportunities. IIE is also seeking donors and sponsors willing to contribute support for the study abroad scholarships.
Uniquely meaningful, yet affordable international travel experiences are what SIUE pledges to continue developing for its student body, according to Emmanuel.
“We will seek the most affordable, the most efficient and the most engaging travel experiences for our students,” Emmanuel said. “We believe that our partnership with the International Institute for Education’s Generation Study Abroad initiative will enable us to fulfill our study abroad goals.”
Leading up to IIE’s centennial celebration in 2019, Generation Study Abroad will engage educators at all levels and stakeholders in the public and private sectors to drive meaningful, innovative action to increase the number of U.S. students who have the opportunity to gain international experience. Internships, service learning and non-credit educational experiences are also key components of the initiative in addition to academic programs.
“Globalization has changed the way the world works,” Goodman said. “Employers are increasingly looking for workers who have international skills and expertise. Studying abroad must be viewed as an essential component of a college degree and critical to preparing future leaders.”