Study abroad seeks more destinations

Kristen Snyder

When it comes to studying abroad, WKU officials are hoping to go beyond the typical destinations.

Richard Sutton, executive director of International Programs, hopes to have opportunities for every discipline and to expand locations, as well as the duration of study abroad programs.

“We are heavily invested in China,” Sutton said. “We’d like to see that same kind of activity in the Middle East and Africa. To be a strong university, we need to be networked into the global intellectual community. If we’re only networked into some areas, then we’re working at a deficit.”

Tom Millington, director of Study Abroad and Global Learning, said it’s important to expand programs to include the Middle East.

He said an expansion to the Middle East would be beneficial for students because of the current demand for the Arabic language.

Sutton also said they would like to pursue more locations in Africa.

“Study abroad is mostly Eurocentric,” Millington said. “We need to get away from the Eurocentric model. We need to know more about other parts of the world.”

Last year, 497 WKU students studied abroad, which represents 2.4 percent of the university’s students, Millington said. The most popular destinations were all European countries and included England, Spain and Italy.

Millington took his position in May and Sutton started in June. They plan to strategically review programs to identify strengths and weaknesses.

“We have over 100 agreements with institutions across the world,” Millington said. “We need to see which ones are active and which ones have become dormant.”

WKU’s most recent agreement with a foreign institution was in June with The American University of Rome, Sutton said.

The agreement is similar to the one that WKU has with Harlaxton College in England, President Gary Ransdell said.

“It is an ideal partnership,” Ransdell told the Herald in August. “Classes are taught in English, mostly by American staff, and (they have) a similar curriculum.”

Sutton said students could possibly go to The American University of Rome as soon as January.

Both Millington and Sutton said they’re enthusiastic about the expanding study abroad programs.

“I’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm for study abroad here,” Millington said. “WKU is doing a lot of good things internationally.”