Faculty Advising

UIC has one of the most diverse undergraduate populations of any university in the US. The Study Abroad office is uniquely situated to build curriculum capacity through the creation of new knowledge and interdisciplinary space to study a range of critical global issues through program opportunities on six continents. Access, diversity, and graduation rate are three key student success benchmarks that define participating students who reflect the wide socio-economic diversity of UIC undergraduates.

Counter-intuitive to the national data trends for study abroad, UIC Study Abroad data from the 2015-16 academic year is reflective of the high level of access and opportunity for students with highly diverse narratives who go abroad: 50% were Pell eligible; 52% identified as an under-represented minority; and 47% were first generation in their family to attend college.  This period also saw a 41% increase over the previous year in the amount of scholarship and grant funding to students: more than $333,000, including over $85,000 in the nationally competitive Gilman International Scholarship. As is the case in studies done at other institutions, preliminary data clearly shows that UIC study abroad students graduate at a much higher rate than their peers supporting it as a high impact activity for student success.

Students have more contact with faculty than any other group on campus. Whether it’s cultivating students’ interest in international, linguistic, or cultural themes, or creating a specific short-term program, faculty are key to the continued growth and success of the study abroad initiative at UIC.

Program Models
Although the language referring to international academic activity is standardized within the professional field of international education, the terms international education, study abroadexchangedirect enroll, etc. are sometimes misunderstood by students and their advisors. These activities are generally structured in five clusters as outlined below. The UIC Study Abroad Office oversees those in 3 a, b, and c.

1. Incoming international: International students who directly enroll from abroad, most often into a degree program. The majority of these students are studying at the graduate level. The UIC office responsible for these students is the Office of International Services.
2. Exchange: A negotiated number for number exchange between a US institution and comparable one abroad where students and/or faculty migrate for short-term study abroad, teaching, and/or research opportunities.  International students/faculty coming into the US system through this model become a cohort of the incoming internationals. The UIC office responsible for this activity is the Office of International Affairs.
3. Study Abroad: An activity for UIC students leaving campus to study abroad.  There are three variations and not all are equally suitable for every student.
3a. Direct enroll: A mechanism of coordination whereby the US student can enroll directly into an institution abroad as an international student for a short term program of study, i.e. usually from 6 weeks up to an academic year.  The Study Abroad Office works either directly with the institution abroad or through a program partner.  This model is good for the more independent student who wants the full range curriculum of a university.  It is essentially the mirror situation of undergraduate international students coming to UIC.
3b. Island/Independent program: A program abroad developed by a US university or academic consortium where the coursework is taught by faculty from a local university but not through that university’s formal department structure, i.e. there is most often a ‘program center’ with classrooms and/or rented classroom space, and a full permanent local staff. A sub-variation in this category is short-term faculty-led programs.  These models most often focus on the student becoming as immersed as possible in the local culture through language learning, homestays, structured field trips, and academic assignments of reflection on what learning takes place outside the classroom.  These programs usually are best suited for the more mature student.
3c. Hybrid program: This programming blends options of enrolling directly in a local university with the ‘island/independent’ model, offering strong student affairs support with the opportunity to take classes at the program center and/or on a university campus.
Program Affiliations
All aspects of Study Abroad programming – the programs themselves, the student participants, and the content of available course work – rely on the success of their interaction in order to provide a sustainable, positive academic and personal experience.

The Study Abroad Office maintains a portfolio of summer, semester, and academic year programs which have been vetted according to international education best practice guidelines, the needs of the University’s undergraduates, and understanding of the specifics of the program environment. This portfolio is reviewed every summer.

All programs in the SAO portfolio must have active affiliate agreements which outline the responsibilities of both the UIC Study Abroad Office and the host institution regarding academics, transcripting, student affairs, and billing. Financial aid eligibility is determined by the Financial Aid Office and is distributed directly to the student, who then pays the program host directly.

The academic quality of program curricular and extra-curricular learning opportunities is determined by home-country or US accreditation, breadth and depth of the curriculum available to visiting students, appropriate language instruction, and reputation among peer departments or disciplines. All coursework taken by students abroad must be pre-approved by designated signatories in the student’s UIC college dean’s office, their major department Director of Undergraduate Studies, relevant language faculty, and/or college advisor.

On the operational side, program affiliation is generally based upon personal experience and/or administrative knowledge, the depth and breadth of student support services, and demonstrated safety and risk management policies, protocols, and implementation on site.

Curriculum Integration
The collective curriculum across over 200 program opportunities consists of well over 2,500 courses equivalent to or enhancing undergraduate coursework at UIC colleges. Between September 2007 and December 2013 , a total of 10,167 credit hours were earned by study abroad students: 46% were approved by faculty in the student’s major or minor.
Evaluation of Outcomes
Six-year graduation rates for beginning AY cohorts 04-06 who studied abroad vs. campus average shows that studying abroad does not lengthen the time to graduation. Students who started at UIC as freshmen in 2004, 2005 and 2006 graduated at a rate of about 92%. The campus average for this time is about 53%. The four year graduation rates of these students are in the 40’s, nearly twice the campus average. These results are consistent with findings from substantially larger longitudinal studies done at University of Minnesota, UC-San Diego, and the Georgia State University System. See Impact of Study Abroad on Retention and Success for a list of research findings.
The Forum on Education Abroad

The Forum on Education Abroad is the principle US higher education professional association recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission as the Standards Development Organization (SDO) for the field of education abroad. It is a professional membership organization whose exclusive purpose it is to serve the field of education abroad.

Key FEA documents are hyperlinked here:

Standards of Good Practice For Education Abroad, 4th Edition (2011)

Code of Ethics for Education Abroad, 2th Edition (2011)

Standards of Good Practice for Short-Term Education Abroad Programs (2009)

Guidelines for Undergraduate Health-related Programs Abroad (2013)

Guidelines for Language Learning Abroad (2013)

Guidelines for Undergraduate Research Abroad (2013)

Guidelines for Home Institution Academic Advising (2010)

Guidelines for On-site Academic Advising (2010)

The Study Abroad Office feels that departmental support and promotion of study abroad is crucial to student participation. Some general strategies you might consider could include:

  • inviting an SAO staff person to spend 15 minutes at the beginning of your class to promote study abroad in a relevant geographic or academic focus.
  • offering an information session through SAO on a particular study abroad program based on location or curricular theme, e.g. social justice, public health, language learning, international business, arts/architecture and culture, etc..
  • sharing relevant programs, dates, and deadlines through a departmental newsletter or social media. Reminders and frequent contact keep study abroad at the top of students’ minds.
  • posting a “study abroad” link from your departmental website. This link signals to students that they can study abroad if they concentrate in your academic area.
  • integrating student study abroad experiences and reflections into your own lecture.
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