Int'l. efforts boosted by Global Commons
In the midst of the Jan. 31-Feb. 4 International Week on campus, the U of S was set to launch its Global Commons initiative – to give a boost to having more international students come here and more U of S students study abroad.
At On Campus News press time, plans called for Provost and Vice-President Academic Michael Atkinson to hold a news conference Feb. 3, revealing that the University will provide new campus space for international students and more support for travel grants and study abroad by students and faculty.
Earlier in the week Atkinson told OCN “with the creation of the Global Commons, it’s our intention to signal a renewed emphasis on internationalization.”
He said while there is a need for further action on staffing, policy development and adding more international opportunities for students, this week’s announcement “is an important start” to improvements in internationalization.
U of S foundational documents call for the University to be a more active player in international education – recruiting more international students and giving Canadian students more study-abroad opportunities.
Currently there are 1,200 foreign students at the U of S, from 80 countries. The U of S is greatly increasing its international recruitment and has either just made or will soon make recruitment efforts in Kenya, Mozambique, China, Korea, Japan, Brazil, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan. It is also developing recruiting plans for students from the Middle East and other areas.
The Feb. 3 announcement says:
• The University will create the Global Commons in the area currently occupied by Rm. 60 in Lower Place Riel. Minor renovations will be done to create a “friendly, open” space that will accommodate the International Students Office, the Study Abroad & Exchange Program, an international students’ lounge, and meeting space for the many international student associations. It is to open in early September.
Atkinson says the goal of putting the Global Commons in such a central, high-traffic location is to raise the profile of internationalization, support international students, attract more of them, and promote international study and work experiences for Canadian U of S students.
• A new support program is being created to help faculty develop exchange or study abroad courses. Atkinson’s office is committing a total of $30,000 for 50-50 matching funds for colleges that want to share the cost to release faculty from teaching time so they can develop the new programs. The U of S now has 15-20 active study-abroad programs, but wants to stimulate development of many more.
• The current travel grant program for students and faculty is being enhanced, with the budget rising to $45,000 from the previous $30,000 and now offering $500 grants for students studying abroad and $1,000 grants for faculty. The University wants to see more students and faculty study abroad.
• Effective this spring, students at the University’s Centre for Second Language Instruction, including its 300 English as a Second Language students, will be granted full status as U of S students. This will give them access to services such as website and e-mail, student health centre, counselling, the International Students Office, phys-ed and recreational facilities, and others.
• The University is developing a new international travel risk management policy to ensure students, staff and faculty are adequately informed of the issues involved in international travel, and the specifics of the travel for their particular project. The policy will call for procedures such as pre-departure briefings and emergency plans in the event of problems during travel.
At the news conference U of S Students’ Union President Gavin Gardiner was also to announce that the USSU has just created a new position on its executive for an international student representative, signalling that the group also recognizes the importance of international student issues.