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CIEE and Penn’s CMSI Release New Report on How to Expand Study Abroad Programs at Minority Serving Institutions

CIEE and the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI) have published a report with new and original data regarding study abroad statistics for students at minority serving institutions (MSIs). The report, "Increasing Diversity Abroad: Expanding Opportunities for Students at Minority Serving Institutions," examines the alarming lack of diversity in both racial composition and institutional representation for study abroad, noting that students of color account for less than 25% of those who engage in such opportunities.

Data from the Institute of International Education suggests that a mere 3.6% of all study abroad students hail from an MSI, despite the fact that MSIs educate 20% of all undergraduate college students in the United States. To address this disparity, the report offers a comprehensive overview of the benefits of study abroad for not just students but faculty and institutions as well. The report also offers five recommendations specifically directed at MSIs to help them increase funding and develop programs for study abroad at their respective institutions.

“As the institutions best positioned to cultivate and promote diversity, MSIs should be global leaders in education,” said Paola ‘Lola’ Esmieu, associate director for programs at CMSI and lead author of the report. “Helping MSIs further establish study abroad programs for their students is an essential and actionable way to work toward that goal.”

The benefits of study abroad are numerous: it increases retention and graduation rates, promotes intercultural and global knowledge, allows for institutional collaboration, and aids students’ personal and professional development. However, students and institutions must overcome financial and cultural obstacles to participate in study abroad opportunities – obstacles that are magnified at MSIs, which receive comparatively lesser funding relative to other institutions. The report offers strategies to mitigate financial and other burdens and ensure MSI students may gain greater access to opportunities to study abroad.

“Expanding opportunities for global education is an imperative for university leaders across the country,” said James P. Pellow, Ed.D., president and chief executive officer of CIEE and a Penn Graduate School of Education alumnus. “Promoting best practices for education at MSIs is both a privilege and a powerful way to affect change.”

The report was developed as a joint effort stemming from the recent part¬nership between CMSI and CIEE. In November 2015, CIEE and CMSI gathered 10 presidents of leading MSIs in Berlin, Germany, for an inaugural Study Abroad Leadership Workshop for Minority Serving Institutions to discuss the importance of exposing more stu¬dents from MSIs to international edu¬cation opportunities. CIEE’s profes¬sionalism and impact were strongly endorsed by the MSI presidents, who recognized our work as critically important in promoting cultural and educational opportunities for all students.

The success of the Study Abroad Leadership Workshop has led CMSI and CIEE to expand their partnership for three more years of programming to produce integrated training and support programs for key constituents at MSIs. Throughout this period, CIEE will provide $100,000 to create a scholarship fund that will be administered by CMSI to students from MSIs who would not otherwise be able to study abroad.

View the full report.

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