Annual report 2015-16

Study Abroad at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock encourages students to expand their educational experiences and intellectual perspectives by participating in a Study Abroad experience. Through study abroad programs, students actively participate in new cultures and experience critical, first-hand engagement with global challenges, which in turn, help them become effective and influential leaders in our global society. UALR Study Abroad seeks to engage the diverse UALR student population to become intentional learners who have a heightened sense of global awareness.

The UALR Office of Study Abroad Values:

  • Affordability and Accessibility
  • Curricular Relevance and Academic Rigor
  • Experiential Learning
  • Excellence and Quality Service to all units, students, and faculty
  • Serving the needs for International Knowledge across UALR
  • Facilitating UALR's engagement with partners worldwide
  • Cultural Awareness and Respect for others

To foster these experiences, Study Abroad will provide support and services to prepare students for their international experiences.  Study Abroad is committed to providing academically based international experiences that will cultivate global awareness.  Study Abroad wil:

  • Develop and provide substantive international learning opportunities.
  • Prepare students and program directors for successful study abroad experiences.
  • Promote inclusive, affordable opportunities.
  • Support and collaborate with UALR Faculty and Staff to create programs to meet the needs of UALR’s unique student body to ensure quality programs and services.
  • Foster intercultural interactions on campus.
  • Uphold the best practices in the field of international education.

In February 2016, Study Abroad was moved into the Division of Student Affairs, which allowed the office to merge the academic and student experience components of study abroad.  Moving forward, the Office of Study Abroad wants to keep a strong focus on experiential learning through means of year, semester, and short-term study abroad programs, but also venture into areas of international and domestic internships and research opportunities.

In 2015-2016, Study Abroad purchased and implemented the enrollment and registration management software Terra Dotta.  This system has helped streamline the application system for both students, faculty, and the Study Abroad office.  The Terra Dotta System integrates seamlessly with Banner to import student information and helps keep student information secure.

In the 2015-2016 academic year, Study Abroad awarded $5,250 in scholarship money to students through the Trojan Travels Scholarship.  This scholarship is awarded through an application process, which is reviewed by a panel of faculty and staff members.

Study Abroad appreciates the strong on-campus partnerships that help the office function effectively and efficiently.  We appreciate the Donaghey Scholars program and the Department of World Languages, who help support the study abroad students and office on UALR's campus as well as the countless faculty and staff on campus who regularly contribute in the day to day functions of the office.

A cost analysis was run on all independent Study Abroad Programs for fall, spring, and summer.  The average cost of a study abroad trip for a student traveling independently is as follows:  Fall 2015 $13,865, Spring 2016 $14,227, and Summer 2016 $6,156.   The average cost of a faculty-led study abroad trip is: Fall Break 2015 $2,266, Spring Break 2016 $2,721, and Summer 2016 $4,754.

There was not an emphasis on assessment in Study Abroad during this academic year.  In the coming year, the office will work closely with the study abroad community and advisory committee to build a strong assessment plan.

  • Grow the number of students who study abroad.  This will be accomplished through building partnerships with faculty members and academic support staff on campus to increase the visibility and understanding of Study Abroad opportunities available to students.  This will also take place through continued communication and marketing efforts to students through information sessions and alumni sessions, where students who have previously studied abroad lead sessions about the benefits of studying abroad.

    We would also like to establish better partnerships with the faculty and staff in the UALR Graduate School and the Bowen School of Law, to streamline and clarify policies and procedures for graduate and law students who wish to study abroad.

  • Increase the number of faculty-led programs on campus.  UALR's faculty-led programming is the strongest aspect of study abroad, with 56% of students who choose to study abroad selecting to attend a faculty-led experience.  As we look to strengthen and increase faculty-led programming, the Office of Study Abroad will look to interdisciplinary trips to increase student enrollment and collaboration among university departments.

    To increase the amount of faculty-led programming, it will be imperative to find new faculty members who are interested in leading experiences.  Faculty alumni sessions will be held throughout the year by the Office of Study Abroad to utilize faculty members who have previously led study abroad trips to help recruit potential new faculty members who are interested in leading experiences in the future.

    At this time, there are preliminary plans for a Summer 2017 interdisciplinary trip with World Languages and International Business to Havana, Cuba. There are also plans for a Higher Education focused trip to Cuba, an art-focused trip to Ireland, and a Middle Eastern Studies trip to Morocco- all led by faculty who have never led study abroad trips before.

  • In the 2016-2017 Academic Year, Study Abroad will work with the Study Abroad Advisory Committee to develop a series of policies that will enhance the effectiveness of the office on campus.

    Policies are needed on study abroad eligibility, risk management/emergency response, faculty-led trips, and other aspects deemed necessary by the committee.  The advisory committee will also work to develop learning outcomes, program evaluations, and assessment methods that will help measure the impact of study abroad programs on student learning.

  • One of the largest barriers that keeps the UALR student population from studying abroad is the financial burden. Study Abroad plans to work to get more students to apply for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, the Critical Language Scholarship, and other external scholarships.  In 2015-2016, there were 23 UALR students that applied for this scholarship, we would like to increase that number to 35 for 2016-2017.

    In addition to increasing applicants for the Gilman Scholarship, Study Abroad will work with the Student Affairs Development Officer to find external dollars.

    Study Abroad will also apply for a grant that will help fund interdisciplinary faculty-led programs.

  • Evaluation of study abroad program locations.  Site visits needs to be facilitated on a regular basis with our exchange partners and other popular study abroad program locations to ensure that the academic rigor and safety conditions are appropriately upheld. UALR  needs to regularly examine these locations to determine whether to continue to send students to the site and whether or not to maintain any relationship with the exchange partner or affiliate program.
  • 183 UALR Students studied abroad from summer 2015-summer 2016.  Students studied abroad on independent trips, faculty-led short term trips, and summer language trips.
  • UALR students studied in 23 countries in 2015-2016 including: Peru, Argentina, Jamaica, Bahamas, South Korea, Vietnam, China, Mexico, Ghana, France, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, and New Zealand.
  • There were 11 faculty-led trips in the 2015-2016 academic year that hosted 103 of the 183 students who chose to study abroad, or 56% of the study abroad student population.
  • UALR had five students receive the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship in 2015-2016.  These students collectively received $22,000 in external scholarship dollars towards their study abroad experiences.