!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Promoting and Facilitating Study Abroad

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Promoting and Facilitating Study Abroad

In the MIT report I talked about in yesterday's post, the task force chartered to examine options for enhancing undergraduate education offered six recommendations relating to international study. In brief:
  1. Build on "existing programs at MIT that have proven especially effective in creating meaningful encounters between undergraduates and foreign countries. These efforts include assessing the optimal sustainable scale of these programs, the resources necessary to reach this scale, and feasible strategies for expanding the reach of these programs."

  2. "... ensure that, within five years, any MIT student who wishes to undertake meaningful study, work, or internships abroad may be able to do so without financial or academic penalty. In particular, students who undertake meaningful study abroad should be able to graduate in four years and will be assisted in financing foreign study, especially for summer experiences, where financial aid is generally unavailable."

  3. " ... encourage faculty members to explore formal arrangements with comparable universities in other countries, in order to promote undergraduate study and research exchanges."

  4. Ask all the academic departments to "provide formal guidance to all majors who may wish to pursue international study. Departments also should be encouraged to explore developing educational partnerships with universities in other countries and develop avenues for undergraduates to gain international experience during the IAP [interterm period] and the summer. ... ensure that information about each department’s international education opportunities is updated annually and widely disseminated to current and prospective students."

  5. Study "current and future demand for foreign language instruction at MIT, with the goal of devising a plan for meeting the demand that may exist."

  6. "... bolster the internationalizing missions of the Institute’s international theme houses and, where necessary, work to strengthen ties between these residences and academic units."
A strong theme of the section of the task force report dealing with international study is that the seriousness with which both academic departments and the students themselves plan students' programs causes many students to view study abroad as relatively unimportant in the larger scheme of things. (The lack of a language requirement is a corollary of this view.)

What the task force strongly urges is, in essence, promoting existing opportunities; developing additional well-designed academic, work, and internship opportunities (also to be promoted); and ensuring good support, both from faculty and from administration responsible for infrastructure and logistics.


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