Rise in Enrollment for Short-term Study Abroad Customized Programs at IES Abroad Echoes National Trend

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IES Abroad has seen a 71% enrollment increase in its short-term, faculty-led customized study abroad programs over a three-year period. This growth reflects a trend among international education programs for U.S. college students as reported by the 2010 Open Doors Report.

Working with IES Abroad on our public health study abroad program in Santiago, Chile, allowed our students access to many facets of Chilean culture through field trips and home stays.

For the past three academic years, IES Abroad, a leading provider of study abroad programs, has seen a 71% increase in enrollment in its short-term, faculty-led customized study abroad programs. These programs are a growing trend among international education programs, as evidenced by the 2010 Open Doors Report, which reported that 54.6% of the total study abroad programs in 2008-2009 were short-term in length.

IES Abroad’s Customized Program department has been helping U.S. colleges and universities plan, organize and execute faculty-led study abroad programs since 1956. It was the first study abroad program provider to do so.

Through collaborating with IES Abroad Customized Program specialists, faculty at colleges and universities across the U.S. create unique study abroad programs for groups of their own students. This collaboration allows schools to expand their study abroad offerings without significantly increasing staff.

“As American college and university campuses increasingly look to short-term, faculty-led programs to augment their international education offerings, they often do so with no additional funds to increase the staff needed to manage these programs. These schools are realizing that collaborating with IES Abroad allows them to expand program offerings while also gaining the supportive services and expertise of a known provider of study abroad programs,” said P.J. Shoulders, director of the IES Abroad Customized Program department.

“Finding an experienced partner that knows the local landscape is critical when starting a new study abroad program. We worked with IES Abroad on our Siena, Italy, study abroad program; the resulting program offered our students the opportunity to experience outstanding field trips that were customized to supplement our classroom lectures,” said Marcia France, professor of chemistry at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA.

“Working with IES Abroad on our public health study abroad program in Santiago, Chile, allowed our students access to many facets of Chilean culture through field trips and home stays. They were able to experience first-hand what they were learning in the classroom,” said Devora Grynspan, director of international program development at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

Collaborating with the IES Abroad Customized Program staff assists schools in several ways. One way is the expansion of subject-specific expertise available to students. If asked to do so, IES Abroad Customized Program staff find international faculty to offer lectures that compliment those of a particular school’s faculty, thereby exposing students to a variety of ideas and approaches.

Another way is through the variety of field trip experiences that IES Abroad Customized Program staff can develop for any particular short-term program. Through working with their on-site international colleagues, IES Abroad Customized Program staff can create unique cultural experiences for students that augment the in-class information that is presented to them.

Another important benefit to creating a short-term study abroad program utilizing the expertise of the IES Abroad Customized Program staff is the on-site student support services offered. Once the short-term program faculty leaders and students are on-site, IES Abroad on-site staff members manage the program, including orientation, academic courses or guest lectures, field trips, internships, accommodations, events, health and safety, and student discipline. This management gives faculty the freedom to concentrate on course content.

IES Abroad Customized Program staff can also assist on-campus faculty with creating marketing campaigns that attract students interested in enrolling in the short-term program. Most short-term programs have enrollment goals that must be met before a program can actually be offered.

Carleton College is another school that collaborated with the IES Abroad Customized Program staff to develop a “New Media in Rome” program that directly exposes students to new media projects in leading international art centers, such as New York, Prague, and Rome. IES Abroad coordinated the program’s three-week Rome component, during which students examined the ways in which artists used and/or invented new technological tools to make art.

“IES Abroad provided Carleton faculty and students with an excellent organizational framework, including centrally-located housing and classrooms as well as local academic expertise, all of which helped our students engage the city of Rome and its culture,” said Helena Kaufman, director of off-campus studies at Carleton College in Northfield, MN.

Other examples of IES Abroad Customized Programs include:
International Business and Finance Program in Barcelona - This one-month summer study abroad program immerses Virginia Tech students in the Spanish language as well as the business environment of Europe. It melds business, finance, art, politics, language, and culture, providing opportunities to learn about the financial workings of international companies and the culture of a major European metropolis.

Emerging Markets and Economies BRIC Program in Russia, India and China - For this semester-long, globally comparative and academically rigorous study abroad experience, Babson College students travel together to three unique sites, taking courses designed and facilitated by Babson faculty. Students combine onsite coursework and meetings with business, academic, and government leaders to experience the changing global business landscape. Students spend approximately one month in each country, starting in Russia, then traveling to China, and ending in India. IES Abroad arranges the China and India portions of the program.

First-Year Experience in London - Since 2005, students from Skidmore College’s incoming freshmen class have spent their first semester of college in London with IES Abroad. The program serves as a foundation for the students’ four years at Skidmore and helps them gain an international perspective early in their college careers. The program features faculty members from Skidmore who accompany the program and teach a first-year seminar course. Other courses led by IES Abroad include four or five field trips that enhance in-class work.

IES Abroad, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2010, is a global, not-for-profit academic consortium offering study abroad programs to more than 5,500 U.S. college students each year who participate in 100 programs at 32 international locations. IES Abroad offers programs in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, New Zealand and South America. http://www.IESAbroad.org

In October of 2010, IES Abroad received the prestigious Quality Improvement Program (QUIP) designation from The Forum on Education Abroad for meeting the highest standards for study abroad programming and evaluation in the nation.

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Carol Jambor-Smith
IES Abroad
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