SUNY Oswego appears in the top 20 nationwide for participation in mid-length study-abroad programs among students at master’s colleges and universities, according to the authoritative Open Doors annual report released in November.

The report, jointly prepared by the Institute for International Education and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, found that for 2014-15, Oswego tied for 16th most students—280—taking part in study-and-travel experiences of durations from one quarter to a full semester.

More than 400 Oswego students took part in programs of all durations, including those enrolled in courses with shorter embedded travel opportunities as well as research through the college’s Global Laboratory.

Dr. Joshua McKeown, the college’s director of the Office of International Education and Programs, expressed pleasure that years of effort have boosted Oswego’s numbers to a nationally recognized level, thanks to support from college President Deborah F. Stanley and other top administrators and a willing faculty, as well as his office and student volunteers.

But he said numbers are not the only way to measure the effectiveness of the college’s robust study-abroad program.

“We’ve demonstrated as a campus that we can send students abroad in big numbers through our many programs and partner countries, so the capacity challenge is no longer our only focus,” McKeown said. “Now we want to assess all the programs and make sure the impact on each of our students is profound.”

‘Academic mainstream’

The effort to assess learning outcomes—what students take away from the study-abroad experience—covers three broad categories, McKeown said: improved self-awareness of students’ own role in the world, understanding of international cultural diversity, and awareness of global systems and how they work.

“We’ve moved away from the era when studying abroad was regarded as a boutique activity for a narrow, typically privileged, student demographic,” he said. “That’s not really where we’re at today. Study abroad has been brought fully into the academic mainstream.”

The Open Doors ranking is the latest indication of the success of SUNY Oswego’s approach, which emphasizes diversifying not only the racial, cultural and economic profile of students taking advantage of study-and-travel opportunities, but branching out to destinations beyond the ever-popular Western Europe.

SUNY Oswego students have access to more than 80 international academic programs in over 30 countries.

The Institute for International Education recently reported that 20 percent of graduating students at Oswego participate in education abroad, making Oswego one of the leading campuses for study abroad in the SUNY system.

Last year, the IIE awarded SUNY Oswego an honorable mention in the Andrew Heiskell Awards for International Education program for the college’s “I, Too, Am Study Abroad” campaign, one of only three initiatives honored nationally in the study abroad category. The program seeks to raise awareness among students who have been underrepresented in study abroad of the benefits of international education and the availability of scholarships to help pay for it.

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