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Lakeland College has committed to doubling the number of its undergraduate students who study abroad over the next five years. The college made the pledge when it joined the Institute of International Education (IIE)'s Generation Study Abroad initiative to double the number of American students who study abroad by the end of the decade.
Leading up to IIE's centennial celebration in 2019, Generation Study Abroad will engage educators at all levels and stakeholders in the public and private sectors to drive meaningful, innovative action to increase the number of U.S. students who have the opportunity to gain international experience through academic study abroad programs, as well as internships, service learning and non-credit educational experiences.
Lakeland is among the lead partners who have committed to specific, measureable actions that will help reach this ambitious goal; the result will be thousands more American students graduating with the international experience necessary for success in a globalized world.
Building on its nearly 100-year commitment to study abroad, IIE has committed $2 million of its own funds to this initiative over the next five years. Lakeland will create a scholarship fund for study abroad, seek out new relationships with international institutions and develop an internship program at the college's Tokyo campus.
"Lakeland recognizes that, regardless of your career path, a study abroad, intern abroad or other international exchange experience will better prepare you for the global economy," said Jen Siebert, director of international programs. "The college is committed to providing our students with ways to diversify their resumes and make them stand out to future employers by encouraging study abroad."
Tiffany Miller, a senior from Mason, Wis., majoring in German, studied at Lakeland College Japan in spring 2011 and at the University of Kassel in Germany in spring 2012.
"Studying abroad has helped me gain more independence and confidence in myself and my goals," Miller said. "It has really changed my perspective on life in general, as well. I would encourage any undergraduate student to strongly consider a study abroad experience."
Over the past few years, more than 80 Lakeland students have gone abroad to more than seven countries. Lakeland offers both semester-long study abroad opportunities as well as short-term, faculty-led courses conducted during the college's three-week May Term.
In addition to its two-year campus in Tokyo, Lakeland has sister schools in China, Korea, Germany, Luxembourg and Colombia that provide study abroad prospects. Recent connections with study abroad organizations such as CEA and AIFS will provide Lakeland students with a more varied pool of locations around the globe for study abroad.
Lakeland is one of more than 150 higher education institutions from 41 U.S. states that have signed the Generation Study Abroad Commitment, including large state and private universities, liberal arts colleges, community colleges and historically black colleges and universities and other minority serving institutions.
The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and several foreign governments, as well as key higher education associations and study abroad provider organizations, have also pledged to support the goals of the initiative. Recognizing the importance of an internationally focused workforce, IIE is also actively seeking the participation of corporations and the business community.
"Globalization has changed the way the world works, and employers are increasingly looking for workers who have international skills and expertise," says Dr. Allan Goodman, President of IIE. "Studying abroad must be viewed as an essential component of a college degree and critical to preparing future leaders."
IIE is launching Generation Study Abroad because it believes the number and proportion of today's students who graduate with an educational experience abroad is far too low. Currently, fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point in their academic career.
According to the Open Doors Report on International and Educational Exchange released by IIE last November, 295,000 students studied abroad in 2011/12 in credit-bearing and non-credit programs. Generation Study Abroad aims to grow participation in study abroad 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, IIE believes it is clear that major segments of America's young people are not getting the international experience they will need to advance their careers and participate in the global economy, or to work together across borders to address global issues.
For more information on IIE's Generation Study Abroad initiative, and a complete list of commitment partners, go to: iie.org/generationstudyabroad.
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