SHU Joins Institute of International Education Coalition

News Story: June 25, 2014

Goal is to Increase the Number of SHU Students Who Study Abroad by 45 Percent by End of Decade

Sacred Heart University has joined the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) Generation Study Abroad initiative to double the number of American students who study abroad by the end of the decade. The initiative is also focusing on increasing the diversity of the students who study abroad, ensuring quality and removing barriers to participation. Sacred Heart has pledged to increase the number of students who study abroad by 45 percent over the next five years.

Consistent with the University’s mission, Sacred Heart University leadership has outlined a strategic vision to move forward and keep pace with the benchmarks of learning in the 21st century. This vision includes a distinctive commitment to academic excellence by connecting students to the wider global community. To realize this goal, the University will increase education abroad learning opportunities for students, said Carrie Wojenski, director of Global Affairs. “Such opportunities encourage the diverse exchange of ideas, foster greater cultural engagement and promote cultural competence and global interaction,” she said.

A team at SHU will work to eliminate the academic barriers that inhibit students from studying abroad by integrating core education requirements into the University’s signature study abroad destinations and creating “global pathways” major tracks, Wojenski said. The University will also diversify the study abroad program portfolio by adding additional partners or sites to better represent all academic majors and by expanding signature programs abroad to include fall semester abroad experiences for freshmen.

IIE’s Generation Study Abroad initiative has more than 300 committed partners that have committed to specific, actionable goals to increase the number of U.S. students studying abroad. Included are colleges and universities of all sizes and types across the country, as well as study abroad organizations, foreign governments and associations. Recognizing the importance of an internationally focused workforce, IIE is also actively seeking the participation of corporations and the business community. 

“At Sacred Heart University, we emphasize the importance of global awareness and assist students in acquiring a rich understanding of their own and others’ cultures. We believe that a study abroad experience enhances students’ global outlook and overall education, as well as prepares them to live in and make their contributions to the human community,” Wojenski said.

Currently, more than 200 SHU students go abroad to more than 15 countries every year. Sacred Heart offers over 40 programs through which students participate in a wide variety of education abroad opportunities, including study abroad semesters, faculty-led courses, internships, international service learning programs and clinical health placements. 

“Globalization has changed the way the world works, and employers are increasingly looking for workers who have international skills and expertise,” says Allan Goodman, president of IIE. “Studying abroad must be viewed as an essential component of a college degree and critical to preparing future leaders.” Currently, fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point in their academic career. Generation Study Abroad aims to grow participation so that the annual total reported will reach 600,000 by the end of the decade. 

“With 2.6 million students graduating with associates or baccalaureate degrees each year, it has become clear that large numbers of them have not been exposed to the international experiences they will need to advance their careers and succeed in the global economy,” Wojenski noted. “We want to change that for our Sacred Heart students.”

For more information on IIE’s Generation Study Abroad initiative, and a complete list of commitment partners, go to: www.iie.org/generationstudyabroad.