The mission of Study Abroad at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock is:
- for students to expand their educational experiences and intellectual perspectives by participating in a Study Abroad experience;
- for students to 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; and
- to engage the diverse student population to become intentional learners who have a heightened sense of global awareness.
The UA Little Rock 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 UA Little Rock
- Facilitating UA Little Rock's engagement with partners worldwide
- Cultural Awareness and Respect for others
The Office of Study Abroad aspires to cultivate a climate of global awareness at UA Little Rock through the promotion of international educational experiences that are inclusive, affordable, and substantive. Our hope is that all UA Little Rock students will participate in an international experience before graduation.
Promotes student development through intentional services, programming and structures
One of the priorities of the Office of Study Abroad is to encourage and increase participation in international education experiences at UA Little Rock due to the abundant research that shows how studying abroad positively impacts students and aids in post-graduation success. From Spring 2011-Summer 2017, 769 students have studied abroad, with 220 (28.5%) choosing to participate in independent experiences, 537 (69.8%) choosing to participate in faculty-led experiences, and 13 (1.7%) choosing to participate in an international internship.
The study abroad programs with whom UA Little Rock partners represent a diverse slate of academic disciplines and countries across the world. As the department works to align the program portfolio with the division and institution mission, we will be intentional in selecting international partnerships that are substantive in nature.
The trend for UA Little Rock students to participate in faculty-led programming matches the national international education trend of students choosing to participate in short-term study abroad programs versus long-term independent experiences. The Office of Study Abroad is working diligently with faculty members on campus to build interdisciplinary faculty-led programming relevant to UA Little Rock students.
UA Little Rock Study Abroad is also seeing a trend of students participating in international internships (also a trend in the international education field), but are choosing to find those more independently, which is something the Study Abroad Advisory Committee will address in the upcoming year.
Advocates for the excluded
In the 2016 academic year, the Office of Study Abroad did targeted outreach to recruit students to study abroad. This included outreach to all PEAW courses, CLC, Donaghey Scholars, and hosting two Study Abroad Days, which each had 90-100 interested students attend.
There is still a need to recruit underrepresented students from UA Little Rock to participate in Study Abroad experiences, which is on par with trends in education abroad. Study Abroad has built a recruitment plan for 2017-2018 that targets students by major, scholarship program, and those who have previously shown interest by attending a fair/interest session. The Office of Study Abroad also plans to join the Institute of International Education's Generation Study Abroad, a nationwide effort to double the amount of students who study abroad.
In Spring 2017 as part of Study Abroad Day, the office hosted a scholarship workshop specifically for the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, which is targeted at underrepresented students in study abroad. This was co-hosted with the UA Little Rock University Writing Center, to ensure that students understood the qualifications to apply for the scholarship and the technical aspects of writing a solid essay for the scholarship. The office will again host workshops similar to this to help students find, apply for, and write essays for scholarships to help pay for study abroad experiences.
The Director of Study Abroad serves on the Safe Zone Committee and the Green Dot Committee, both work to built a climate at UA Little Rock that is accepting and inclusive to all, and advocate for the excluded.
Provides an environment in which students can pursue their educational goals
One of the main priorities of the Office of Study Abroad for 2016 was to increase the number of students who applied for the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship.
- In the 2016 cycle, 35 total applications were submitted by UA Little Rock Students, but only 19 were complete applications. Out of the 19 applications, 5 students were awarded the scholarship. $8,000 in external aid was awarded to UA Little Rock students for study abroad experiences during the 2016 cycle.
- In the 2017 cycle, 22 applications have been submitted, 13 were complete applications, and for summer, 1 student was awarded the Gilman Scholarship, but turned it down due to personal reasons. As of July 18, awards for the fall semester have not been announced, but are anticipated very soon. Five students have applied for a scholarship for this term.
- The Office of Study Abroad will continue to work with programs like the Gilman Scholarship, Fund for Education Abroad, Freeman-Asia Scholarship, and other external scholarship programs to educate UA Little Rock students on the the external scholarship dollars that are available for study abroad experiences.
Financial Assistance is the largest barrier keeping UA Little Rock students from studying abroad at a higher rate. The Office of Study Abroad will continue to offer the Trojan Travels Scholarship yearly, which awards $5,000 annually to UA Little Rock students to study abroad, and will continue to offer scholarship workshops and information sessions to share the abundant external financial assistance available for students interested in studying abroad. Twenty UA Little Rock students were awarded the Trojan Travels Scholarship this year.
Denzel Jenkins won the Gilman Scholarship ($3,500) for fall 2016, and studied abroad in Costa Rica. Rebecca Hallet won ($4,500) for fall 2017, and plans to study in the Czech Republic.
In the spring of 2017, the Office of Study Abroad was relocated to Administration North 205. The 2nd floor space was newly renovated to host Study Abroad, SASI, CLC, and Green Dot. The space will be optimal for students to utilize for a variety of reasons, but much more publicity will need to be done to advertise the location of the office to the campus community, as this is the third physical location for study abroad within the past year.
In summer 2017, the Director of Study Abroad was chosen to participate in the UA Little Rock Service Academy. During her time there, she worked with faculty and staff from across campus to develop the framework for a Study Abroad Capstone Course that will help prepare students during pre-departure, keep them connected with their peers and home campus while abroad, and help with re-entry advising once students return from their time abroad. In 2017-2018, the Director will work with the Study Abroad Advisory Committee, STaR (Scholarly Technology and Resources), and other important partners from across campus to develop the course in its entirety to prepare for a potential fall 2018 launch.
In May of 2016 and May of 2017 during the NAFSA International Educators Annual Conference, the Director of Study Abroad completed five workshops to build professional competencies in areas that are crucial to the growth of the department. The workshop titles were: Health, Safety, and Risk Management in Education Abroad, Risk Assessment and Crisis Management in Education Abroad Programming, Expanding Roles of the Education Abroad Adviser, and the ABCs of Visa Acquisition.
The Director of Study Abroad has also served as the Coordinator of the UALRworks Program since August of 2017, a $500,000 extra labor program tasked with employing students in 70 departments on campus, aiding in their professional development, and positively increasing persistence and retention rates on campus.
As noted in previous Annual Reports, the previous culture within the Office of Study Abroad was gathering nominal data to report to the Institute of International Education's annual Open Doors Report . UA Little Rock reported data to IIE on international education participation again for the previous year.
During the 2016-2017 academic year, the Director of Study Abroad has worked with the Study Abroad Advisory Committee and the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs for Inclusion and Wellness / Associate Dean of Division Strategy to develop an Assessment Plan for the area. The plan for 2017-2018, is to formulate a survey based on the Global Perspective Inventory from Iowa State, the Intercultural Knowledge and Competence Value Rubric from the AAC&U, the Intercultural Development Inventory, and other prominent surveys in the international education field to best meet the needs of Study Abroad at UA Little Rock.
Program Site Assessments were completed this year at three partner institutions and with one of our program providers. The Office of Study Abroad had faculty and staff visit the University of Northumbria, Abat Oliba CEU, the University of Orleans, and a site visit in Spain with Academic Programs International (API). Comprehensive site visits were completed to measure health and safety, academic rigor, student accommodation, and general issues that needed to be addressed with partner institutions. Each site visit wielded important information that the Office of Study Abroad will utilize to recruit students to these institutions and programs, better advise students on program selection, and to help assist with program portfolio review and future site visits.
VI. Priorities for Next Year
- Increase participation in international education experiences, both independent student experiences and faculty-led experiences. This will be accomplished by establishing and executing a recruitment plan, which targets students by major, scholarship program, and students who have previously shown interest in studying abroad. Part of this plan is to work to tailor the study abroad program portfolio offered by UA Little Rock to best meet the needs of the dynamic student population we serve.
- Establish a culture of continuous improvement and assessment within the Office of Study Abroad. This will be accomplished by beginning assessment efforts within the office, continuing to conduct site visits to partner institutions and program providers on a regular basis, building and strengthening programming efforts for students who are planning to, currently, and returning from studying abroad, and continuous education for the staff within the office to ensure that UA Little Rock is on the forefront of changes within the field of international education.
- Continue working with the Study Abroad Advisory Council to develop policies and procedures to streamline the study abroad process, which will help prepare for the Forum on Education Abroad QUIP process.
- Increase visibility on campus through social media (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat) and traditional methods (information sessions, new student orientation, displays on campus, class presentations, meetings with college chairs, Discover UALR day). The Office of Study Abroad has built a recruitment and social media strategy that will utilize original and borrowed content from previous study abroad students to help use previous student experiences as a way to bust the myths that surround studying abroad.
VII. Appendix: Fast Facts
2016-2017 Study Abroad Participation
Independent Experiences: 8
Faculty Led Participation: 28
Independent Experiences: 12
Faculty Led Participation: 24
Independent Experiences: 9
Faculty Led Participation: 30
Total Students who Participated in Study Abroad: 111
Countries visited: Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, China, Costa Rica, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Scotland, Spain, and Taiwan.