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Salve Regina joins national study abroad initiative, aims to double participation

NEWPORT, R.I. – Salve Regina University, already ranked among the top colleges in the nation in study abroad participation, is one of just two Rhode Island institutions that have joined the Institute of International Education’s five-year Generation Study Abroad initiative that will bring leaders in education, business and governments together in an effort to double the number of U.S. college students studying abroad.

In joining the initiative, the university has committed to a study abroad goal of reaching a 65 percent undergraduate participation rate over the next five years. This would effectively double the current rate at Salve Regina by engaging about 300 students in international opportunities annually. Currently, fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point in their academic careers, according to IIE. While Salve Regina has exceeded this rate by far, university leaders say there is still room for expanding

“We look forward to the benefits of participating in the national dialogue around this initiative and benefiting from the experiences of other institutions, as well as sharing our own successes,” said Dr. Jane Gerety, RSM, Salve Regina president.” To reach the university’s ambitious goal, Sister Jane said she will first form an ad hoc committee of faculty, staff and students to inventory barriers to study abroad participation and work with all constituents to remove them, where possible."

Salve Regina ranked 17th nationally in undergraduate participation in study abroad in 2012, IIE reported in its annual “Open Doors Report.” The university’s Office of International Programs reports that currently about 180 undergraduate students participate in international study abroad programs annually.

“The numbers tell part of the story and growing participation rates is important,” said Erin FitzGerald, director of International Programs, “but the impact on students’ lives and student learning is the real heart of the story. We have witnessed how study abroad re-shapes students’ academic and career choices and results in a more globally engaged segment of our student population. Generation Study Abroad is exciting and worthwhile to us because of the potential it will unleash in our student population at Salve and nationwide.”

Salve Regina is among 150 lead partners representing 41 states in the IIE Generation Study Abroad initiative that have committed to specific, measurable actions to help reach new participation goals. The result will be thousands more American students graduating with the international experience necessary for success in a changing world.

“Globalization has changed the way the world works, and employers are increasingly looking for workers who have international skills and expertise,” said Dr. Allan Goodman, IIE president. “Studying abroad must be viewed as an essential component of a college degree and critical to preparing future leaders.”

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 through academic study abroad programs, as well as internships, service learning and non-credit educational experiences.

Building on its nearly 100-year commitment to study abroad, IIE has committed $2 million of its own funds to this initiative over the next five years. IIE is also actively raising funds for a Study Abroad Fund to provide scholarships to college and high school students and grants to institutions.

With lead gifts from IIE Chairman Thomas S. Johnson and IIE Treasurer Mark A. Angelson, IIE will launch a new scholarship program, the IIE Passport Awards for Study Abroad, to provide supplemental grants for students from inner-city high schools to study abroad when they are in college.

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 actively seeking the participation of corporations and the business community.

IIE is seeking at least 500 U.S. colleges and universities willing to either double the number of their students studying abroad, or significantly increase the participation rate of students who study abroad at some point during their undergraduate career. Later phases include mobilizing 1,000 high school teachers and engaging 10,000 alumni and students.