In addition to maintaining the quality and diversity of our current international academic, research and development initiatives, Virginia Tech should proactively and consistently improve the quality, diversity, and effectiveness of undergraduate international experiences with a goal of significantly increasing the number of VT undergraduates gaining such an international experience. Increasing opportunities for VT signature global experiences will ensure that every student graduates with a broad set of skills and competencies (language, cultural, business, etc.) necessary to live and work in a truly global marketplace.
The university scorecard report at the link below indicates that 1159, or 20.6 percent, of graduating undergraduates participated in a study abroad experiences during their tenure at VT. The goal from the current strategic plan was to double the 2005 level, and we have consistently exceeded that goal. Our committee engaged in discussion about wanting to proactively and consistently increase that number even further. One barrier is cost. Another is value-added engagement (meaningful to the discipline of study). Moreover, we have not looked to our international students as a resource; no forum exists in which they can educate the university community about the societies from which they come.
(from BOV November 2010 Report)
To attract resources, students, and partnerships from outside the United States, we must also raise the university’s profile worldwide. It is no longer sufficient to be concerned with how the university compares with other universities in the nation; we must begin to evaluate how our programs compare with the best programs around the world. Concurrently, as borders come down and businesses in our global economy, as well as all of the disciplines become increasingly international, graduating students in all fields must have opportunity for international engagement and experiences, particularly study abroad, as a component of their undergraduate experience. Our students also serve as effective representatives of the quality and impact of Virginia Tech when they are living, working, and studying in other parts of the world. The world also comes to VT and as part of, but not the sole means, of a plan to increase global experiences, we must not only send our students abroad, but also engage the local-global connections (resident international students) in Blacksburg and other regional campuses of the institution.
- Raising our profile will not happen by accident; we need to be creative and strategic in allocating resources to existing and new research, teaching, and development actions.
- Assists in attracting and retaining the best students, staff, and faculty.
- Assists in development activities (e.g., the next fundraising campaign).
- Our students will benefit now and in the future job market by participating in a high-quality international experience.
- May interface well with current students’ interests in language lab, furthering language instruction at VT through creative pedagogical methods.
- Trying to determine what matters for these rankings when they are relatively new.
- Trying to seek a greater global profile while remaining faithful to our land-grant mission in the Commonwealth.
- What steps should we take to raise the global profile? (One idea is to enter (and continue to be competitive in) international competitions, such as the International Solar Decathlon and RoboCup. Another idea is that we need to become even more selective in choosing the foreign universities with which we partner. It is not sufficient merely to enter into international collaborations–we need to enter into collaborations with the most distinguished programs and universities around the world. When a faculty member considers entering into an MOU with a foreign university–the university enters into more than a hundred MOUs each year–it may be difficult for an individual faculty member to ascertain the international educational partner’s standing among other schools in that nation. It would be helpful to have some mechanism for evaluating the international institution before VT enters into an MOU.)
- What process should we implement to vet MOUs and international partnerships for quality, not just quantity?
- We need to provide language instruction for students who do not wish to major or minor in a foreign language, but who need to be sufficiently conversant to participate more fully in study abroad experiences, and to increase foreign language competencies to keep our graduate competitive in a truly global marketplace. Language offerings must be expanded to meet growing demand for instruction in languages of emerging global powers such as Mandarin, Arabic, etc. Should delivery of such courses be the responsibility of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures or another unit? Our intent here is to explore options for helping our students develop conversational language skills. We recognize that immersion is still the best, or perhaps only viable, approach if one is seeking to develop language skills at a technical level.