The University of Kentucky International Center is fostering diversity and innovation on UK’s campus by helping students learn abroad and by bringing international students to UK’s campus.
According to UK President Eli Capilouto, “Engaging in international projects has always been a core aspect of UK’s global research enterprise, providing access for international students to seek their degrees at UK, allowing opportunities for our students to study abroad and immerse themselves in different cultures, and creating opportunities for faculty exchanges that enrich the academic and cultural fabric of our campus.”
International students enrollment at UK has increased by 6 percent, while the number of international undergraduates has increased by 6 percent.
English as a Second Language (ESL) undergraduate students have increased by 42% over last Fall’s enrollment.
Additionally, 886 UK students have enrolled in Education Abroad programs during the 2012-13 academic year, a slight increase over the previous academic year.
The International Center is also serving the UK community by facilitating interaction with a global, scholarly community, according to Susan Carvalho, associate provost for international programs. “We not only create diverse opportunities for global experiences, but also promote the involvement of UK faculty and students in the international community of scholars to investigate and solve global problems.”
Last year the number of students enrolled in University of Kentucky Education Abroad programs rose by an astonishing 39 percent thanks to the global vision of UK and the expertise within office across the campus.
This year Education Abroad has maintained that high mark, proving that their work is creating sustainable change on UK’s campus.
According to the Executive Director of Education Abroad & Exchanges, Anthony Ogden, this sustainability is due in part to the curriculum integration process, which aligns Education Abroad programming with the academic strengths of the university.
“When students come to us, they no longer say ‘I want to go to Spain,” said Ogden. “Instead they say ‘I’m an engineering major and I would like to take a mechanical engineering course abroad.’ We now have a Major Advising Page for mechanical engineers – and many other majors – which lists the programs that have been reviewed and approved by faculty.”
Education Abroad has also intensified the diversity of its portfolio through five experience types – study abroad, research abroad, intern abroad, teach abroad, and service learning abroad.
“We are seeing more and more students in research abroad programs,” said Ogden. “These programs help students understand how their field or discipline is viewed from other cultural perspectives and helps them network with scientists and scholars around the world.”
To support students who would like to conduct research abroad, new undergraduate research scholarships have been developed by Education Abroad and the Office of Undergraduate Research.
Internship abroad and service learning abroad programs have also seen significant growth.
“Many incoming students have been told that service learning, community engagement and volunteerism are very important to get into college,” said Ogden. “So it is not surprising that many students are coming to us and saying they are interested in service learning abroad programs. And so we have expanded our portfolio to respond to student demand and interests.”
The UKIC International Enrollment Manager Audra Cryder and the Office of Enrollment Management have brought students to UK from every corner of the world.
“Our trips to Pakistan, southern provinces of India, Afghanistan, and many other countries have brought students to UK who had never heard of Kentucky before,” said Cryder, who introduces UK to prospective students in less-travelled regions, guides them through the application process and provides them with on-the-ground support upon arrival to UK.
As an International Ambassador, Fahim Ahmadshah, an undergraduate civil engineering student from Kabul, Afghanistan, helps Cryder inspire other international students to attend UK.
“When I went back home this summer, I met with my old friends at school,” said Fahim. “And I talked to them about applying to UK. I told them how UK has great diversity and that there are people from almost all over the world here. Three of my friends applied and they also received scholarships.”
According to the IIE Open Doors data from 2012, there are only 166 undergraduate students from Afghanistan in the United States.
“Increasing the diversity on campus exposes our domestic students to global perspectives, facilitates inter-cultural friendships, and bridges the geographic divide,” said Cryder. “While we want to keep growing the overall number of international students, we also want to keep expanding the list of their countries of origin, so we can be a truly global university.”