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This Week at CCSU

Abroad Program Among Top 40 Nationwide

The latest issue of the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors Report ranks CCSU among the top 40 institutions in the country for the total number of students sent abroad on all types of programs, an opportunity the University has offered for nearly 40 years. In the latest report released the week of Nov. 12, CCSU ranked 23rd among the “Top 40 Leading Institutions by Institutional Type — Master’s level” and 11th among the “Top 20 Leading Institutions by Duration and Institutional Type — Master’s level.”

According to Lisa Bigelow, Associate Director of the Center for International Education (CIE), “CCSU is committed to graduating globally competent students, which means equipping them—through on-campus instruction and study abroad—with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes they will need to thrive in today’s increasingly interconnected society and economy.”

Central has developed a wide range of international education opportunities, including semesters, entire academic years, and courses abroad. Bigelow said, “There is a program to fit all academic interests, budgets, and schedules.”

Over the summer, art and biology students traveled to Australia to take part in a month-long program. CCSU Professor of Biology Sylvia Halkin and ECSU Lecturer of Visual Arts Muriel Miller, who have taken students to study abroad for over a decade, accompanied 12 students to Australia, where they traveled to Sydney, North Stradbroke Island, the desert area of Uluru (Ayers Rock), and Kings Canyon, observing Australian wildlife and landscapes.

Students studied Aboriginal art and culture, and created traditional sand art with guidance from a local artist.

Upon returning to the states, Halkin said, “We were really pleased that students showed significant growth and development in their work in art and biology over the course of the program, had a good time, and learned a lot about Australian culture.”

CIE’s study abroad offerings have increased steadily over the years, as has student participation. Bigelow notes that during the 2010–11 academic year, “23 Course Abroad programs were successfully realized, while in 2011–12, that number jumped to 28. In total,” said Bigelow, last year we sent 457 students abroad to 27 different countries.” Possible reasons for increased participation include the approval of more academically relevant courses; price competitiveness; increased scholarship availability; and increased marketing efforts by the CIE.

Concerns about going abroad for the first time and earning credit at the same time deter some students from considering study abroad options. For those students, Bigelow says, “We offer the non-credit Passport to Global Citizenship programs. Some of these programs are targeted to specific segments of the University’s population, while others are open to all students. They provide a directed international experience that allows students to build skills navigating foreign cities using mass transit, exchanging and using foreign currency, and observing and engaging in a different culture.”

The goal of the Passport programs is to help students feel more comfortable and confident out of the country before engaging in credit-bearing study abroad. With dozens of Course Abroad programs offered each semester, as well as winter and summer sessions, Central students have ample opportunities for exploring the world. “Every time I speak to a classroom full of students,” said Bigelow, “I tell them, ‘Nearly 100 percent of your graduating class will be looking for a job after graduation, yet only one percent of American college students study abroad. Do something to distinguish yourself and your resume: study abroad!’”