Replicating a growing trend among postsecondary schools nationwide, Ithaca College has unveiled plans to expand its study abroad options with a new satellite campus in China as part of its IC 20/20 initiative.
As part of the IC 20/20 final vision document released this summer, the college hopes to increase the number of students studying abroad. The China Center will join the London Program as the second overseas satellite campus operated by the college.
Marisa Kelly, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said the proposed China Center must still be planned and established, so she could not offer a definitive timetable for its opening.
Given the importance of U.S.-China relations, Kelly said, China is an ideal study abroad location.
“Of course we want IC students to study abroad in locations all over the globe,” she said. “But we have chosen to establish a new Ithaca College center in China because of the increasing importance of understanding China if you are going to understand
Rachel Cullenen, director of study abroad at the college, said interest in overseas study among students has increased over the last decade. In the 1999-2000 academic year, 312 students enrolled in an academic experience abroad, whereas in 2010-11, 545 students studied outside the U.S., according to the Office of International Programs. This year, she said, this number could surpass the college’s 2009-10 record of 620.
Cullenen said she attributes the increase in enrollment numbers to word of mouth and a diversified world economy, where students of all academic disciplines can seek educational opportunities overseas.
“As a country [and] as a culture, we’re believing more and more in study abroad,” she said. “From a very practical standpoint, the fact of having studied abroad is going to set a student apart.”
According to a report released by the Institute on International Education Exchange last November, 260,327 U.S. college students studied abroad for academic credit in 2008-09, more than doubling numbers from 1998-99.
Cullenen said the college’s offerings can satisfy study abroad interests, but the college will continue to seek partnerships with foreign universities in new locations.
Senior Doug Koury spent his spring semester in France as part of an affiliated program with the college and said study abroad offers an appeal to students seeking a change from the normal Ithaca routine.
“I was interested in spending a semester completely out of my comfort zone,” Koury said. “I have eight semesters here, so one of them I should go to a place I’m completely unfamiliar with.”
At Syracuse University, Carrie Abbott, associate director of study abroad, said university polls indicate that 85 percent of incoming students are interested in study abroad. To accommodate the growing interest, the university launched its eighth satellite campus this fall in Istanbul, Turkey.
“Having a background in global education makes students more marketable,” she said. “Even your perspective of what’s going on in your own country changes remarkably when you view your own country through the lens of another.”
Beginning in fall 2006, Goucher College, a private liberal arts college in Maryland, was the first U.S. postsecondary institution to require incoming students to study abroad for at least three weeks prior to graduation. According to college data, 82 percent of incoming students in 2007-08 cited the mandate as a main reason for enrolling at Goucher.
Kelly said the college does not plan to require students to study abroad in the immediate future.