Bobbie Handcock | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
PINE BLUFF, AR. —The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff has pledged to join the Institute of International Education (IIE)’s Generation Study Abroad initiative to double the number of American students who study abroad by the end of the decade. UAPB has committed to increasing the number of undergraduate students who study abroad by 75 over the next five years.
IIE’s Generation Study Abroad will engage educators and stakeholders to increase the number of U.S. students who can gain international experience through study abroad programs, internships, service learning and non-credit educational experiences. IIE has committed $2 million to this initiative over the next five years, leading up to its centennial celebration in 2019.
“I am pleased that Chancellor (Laurence) Alexander has endorsed this initiative, thus enabling UAPB’s name to be added to the IIE Generation Study Abroad list of participating institutions,” says Dr. Pamela D. Moore, Associate Director for Global Engagement. “Although our projected number may seem modest, it is actually quite ambitious for an institution our size. Moreover, national trends indicate that southern students, regardless of race or income, tend to travel abroad less than students from other parts of the U.S.”
UAPB hopes to reach its target number in less than five years and then seeks to double study abroad participation from 75 to 150. According to Moore, strategies for reaching the target number of 75 study abroad students include streamlining procedures to access federal financial aid for study abroad, aggressively pursuing grant opportunities to defray the cost of study abroad participation, building on the university’s STEM record to develop specific experiences abroad in this academic area and reaching out to faculty and staff through workshops and information sessions to increase their participation in global learning initiatives.
“UAPB officials have long emphasized the importance of global awareness, and we believe that a study abroad experience enhances a student’s global outlook and overall education,” observes Chancellor Alexander.
The university recently received the 1890 International Student Development Award from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. The award is presented to the university that has the largest increase in undergraduate students participating in study abroad programs from 2011-2012 through 2012-2013. UAPB had a 133 percent increase in undergraduate students participating in study abroad between 2012 and 2013.
“I want us to continue to be ambitious and forward-thinking in the goals we set for ourselves and our students,” says Chancellor Alexander. “When I received information about the IIE Initiative, I gave it my enthusiastic and wholehearted support.”
More than 150 higher education institutions from 41 U.S. states have signed the Generation Study Abroad Commitment. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and several foreign governments, as well as key higher education associations and study abroad provider organizations, have also pledged to support the goals of the initiative. Recognizing the importance of an internationally focused workforce, IIE is also seeking the participation of corporations and the business community.
Although 2.6 million students graduate with associates or baccalaureate degrees each year, not enough are getting the international experience they need to advance their careers and participate in the global economy, or to work together across borders to address global issues, according to IIE.
“Globalization has changed the way the world works, and employers are increasingly looking for workers who have international skills and expertise,” says Dr. Allan Goodman, IIE president. “Studying abroad must be viewed as an essential component of a college degree and critical to preparing future leaders.”
The study aboard initiative is being launched because the number of students who graduate with an educational experience abroad is far too low, according to IIE. Currently, fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point in their academic career. An estimated 295,000 students studied abroad in 2011-12 in credit-bearing and non-credit programs. Generation Study Abroad aims to grow participation so that the annual total will reach 600,000 by the end of the decade.
For more information on IIE’s Generation Study Abroad initiative and a complete list of commitment partners, visit: www.iie.org/generationstudyabroad .