ASU commits to increase students studying abroad

Derek Osowski studied abroad in Fall 2011 to Spring 2012 at the European University Viadrina in Spain. Osowski won the Sun Devil Spirit photo contest for his photo of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. (Photo courtesy of Derek Osowski) Derek Osowski studied abroad from fall 2011 to spring 2012 at the European University Viadrina in Spain. ASU has announced plans to increase the number of students it has studying abroad each year. (Photo courtesy of Derek Osowski)

ASU has joined more than 300 colleges and universities around the country in an effort to increase the number of American students studying abroad in the coming years.

The Institute of International Education has developed an initiative known as Generation Study Abroad that aims to double the number of students studying abroad by the end of the decade, according to a press release from ASU News.

In the 2011-12 academic year, 1,699 ASU students studied abroad. ASU’s goal is to increase that number to more than 2,000 by the 2018-19 academic year.

Daniel Obst, deputy vice president for the IIE, said the initiative allows for different colleges to come together to achieve their goals.

“Being a part of a larger initiative will provide networks and resources to support the goals of campuses that would like to help increase student participation in study abroad,” he said.

He said ASU will be able to help the initiative take a major step toward its goal.

“As the largest public university in the United States, ASU has an opportunity to significantly contribute to the nationwide effort to double the number of Americans who study abroad,” he said.

ASU offers more than 250 different study abroad programs to more than 55 countries around the world.

Between the fall of 2014 and 2019, ASU has set the goal of increasing the number of students involved in these programs by 20 percent.

To achieve this goal, ASU will be working to identify new potential programs, connect courses with specific destinations and include more information about destinations and programs on the online academic catalog.

Junior Kean Thomas, who studied in London, Edinburgh, and Dublin in the summer of 2013, recommends studying abroad to fellow students but has concerns about the feasibility of ASU's goals.

"The amount of extra funding that students would need would be enormous," Thomas said. "If ASU is willing to provide the cash and organizational support, then I definitely think more students would be willing to go abroad."

Obst said that in the 21st century, study abroad is not just an opportunity to travel but rather a chance for professional development.

“Globalization is changing the way the world works and employers are under strong pressure to find employees who have both the technical knowledge and ‘soft skills,’” he said. “Study abroad is one of the best ways students can acquire global skills and open up personal and professional opportunities.”

More than that, students who study abroad are often better off academically than those who do not, Obst said.

“Studies show students who study abroad have better grades, experience less attrition and graduate from college at higher rates than students who do not study abroad.”

Thomas' study abroad experience exposed him to these benefits.

As large as ASU and Phoenix is, they are still just a small facet to the worldwide economy and community we are a part of," he said. "Witnessing other cultures and other countries helped me figure out what I wanted to do with my education and where I wanted to do it."


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