SUNY looks to increase participants for study abroad by 2020

At this time, 36 colleges have increased study abroad participants up to 70 percent or more.  (Danny O'Connor | The Oswegonian)
At this time, 36 colleges have increased study abroad participants up to 70 percent or more. (Danny O’Connor | The Oswegonian)

The State University of New York is attempting to increase undergraduate study abroad participants by 20 percent by 2020.

SUNY is the first comprehensive system of higher education to join the Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad program. The Generation Study Abroad program was launched at Oswego State and more than 200 other college campuses across the nation. Its 5-year plan was designed to encourage more American students to travel.

“International experience is one of the most important components of a 21st century resume, and studying abroad must be viewed as an essential experience when students are earning their degree,” said Institute of International Education President Allan E. Goodman.

Currently, less than 10 percent of U.S. students study abroad, according to the Institute of International Education. Approximately 5,000 students from SUNY campuses study abroad each year. According to the Office of International Education, 20 percent of undergraduate students travel abroad annually from Oswego State. Students have the opportunity to travel to Europe, Asia, Latin America and Oceania. Students can choose to study internationally for an entire year, a semester, a summer session, an internship or simply take a course with optional travel at the end of the year.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the problems many students have with studying abroad are the hidden costs associated with it. There are many colleges that allow students’ financial aid to transfer over. However, there are additional costs like food and housing that vary depending on the program. For instance, a student wishing to study abroad in the Madrid program will have to pay more than the amount they pay to study in Oswego. Tuition, room and board, textbooks and other utilities costs a little over $10,000 per semester at Oswego State, while studying abroad for a semester in Madrid will cost around $16,000. Some students who attend a SUNY school annot afford this and the schools have limited solutions to help pay for these extra fees.

“I really would have loved to study abroad in Venice, Italy,” said sophomore Yekatarina Basman. “However, neither my parents nor I have the necessary funds to send me. The flight alone is over $1,000.”

Angelina Garcia said she was planning to study abroad in college.

“I was planning to study abroad my junior year. I was going to have to either find my own apartment to live in or stay with a random host family,” Garcia said. “I was barely comfortable with the idea of living with a stranger in a dorm room. Count me out.”

Many students are unfamiliar about the way living abroad works. Certain utilities and services like on campus housing, a laundromat, gym, transportation and Wi-Fi may not be provided. This discourages a lot of students who are actually interested in studying abroad. Generation Study Abroad is aiming to help Oswego State students connect to well-informed advisers or other students who have studied abroad in the past to help clarify how a certain program works, answer any questions and promote this international traveling experience.

In 2012, the Institute of International Education with the help of government agencies, foundations and corporations, such as U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, supported 295,000 students in their venture to study abroad. Institute of International Education has a national goal to double the amount of students studying abroad from 10 percent to 20 percent. They plan to work with Oswego State and other academic institutions to provide financial assistance opportunities, such as scholarships and grants, for the students who cannot afford to study abroad. They also offer advice and training to help spread the word on study abroad.

Generation Study Abroad also offers webinars every month, a free “A Student Guide to Study Abroad” e-book license, a college week live virtual fair, and other resources to help weary students make the commitment to study overseas. Generation Study Abroad understands that having knowledge of other cultures and languages is a necessary skill to possess especially with the evolution of the global economy going on today. They recognize that studying abroad is basic training for tomorrow’s employees, as they will be competing with people all over the globe for the same jobs. Thus far, 36 colleges have successfully increased their participation rates 70 percent or more. However, the other 4,000 academic institutions have yet to increase study abroad involvement.

“The global thinker is on all of our agendas, the global doer is the Oswego agenda,” said John Christian, the president and CEO of CAPA International Education. Oswego State wants more students to reap the benefits of studying abroad, including personal growth and intercultural development. Thus, study abroad is of top priority as they move forward in this 5-year program.

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