Westminster Recognized for Undergraduate Participation in Study Abroad Programs

Dec 9, 2015

Dec. 9, 2015 College ranked in the top 40 master's level institutions for percentage of undergraduate participation SALT LAKE CITY - For the first time Westminster has been ranked in the top 40 masters' level institutions for the percentage of undergraduate study abroad participation by the Institute of International Education's Open Doors report. During the 2013-14 academic year, 191-or 36.6 percent of Westminster undergraduates-participated in academic yearlong, semester-long, summer-long or May Term study abroad programs. "Study abroad is a high-impact experience that can be life-changing for students," said Sara Demko, assistant provost for Global Learning at Westminster. "Westminster students, in any major, can study abroad almost anywhere in the world. Living in another culture challenges you to reconsider yourself, your culture and how you fit into the world. Most undergraduates who studied abroad will tell you it was the highlight of their four years of college." With the help of Westminster's International Center, students have participated in a variety of study abroad opportunities from India to Chile. The college offers several types of study abroad programs to students, including exchange programs, approved study abroad provider programs, Honors Principia Consortium at the University of Glasgow, May Term and Summer Study experiences. Programs are available for an academic year, semester or summer term. At Westminster, the most popular programs are the faculty-led May Term programs-intensive short-term experiences where students can choose from a list of offbeat and inspiring courses that are taught on campus and abroad. Jacqueline Dobbins, a communication major and senior at Westminster, participated in a summer-long study abroad experience to Jerusalem where she worked as global journalist and studied international reporting techniques. "The program I participated in centered on global consciousness, and I found it impossible not to bring back what I had learned to the classroom and to life," Dobbins said. "Now I see everything with a broader perspective, and am able to critically analyze how our Western media portrays other parts of the world." Study abroad experiences have been an integral part of helping the college become more "internationalized" and globally conscious. "The new strategic plan has a focus on student learning, including a specific goal to 'Internationalize our campus community and student experiences,'" said Demko. "One way the college is internationalizing the campus is through the implementation of the new 'Engaging the World' general education requirement. All future Westminster undergraduates will have to complete this requirement through an approved education abroad program or a class on-campus focused on global learning competencies. We anticipate a continued rise in the number of students participating in study abroad programs as the new requirement is implemented." Since the establishment of Westminster's International Center in 2008, the college has seen an increase in international students coming to Westminster as well as study abroad participants. "This growth has been achieved through numerous international partnerships, better access to financial aid and scholarships and the work of staff and faculty across many areas of campus who are dedicated to supporting and encouraging Westminster students to participate in international programs," Demko added. While Demko is proud of the International Center's accomplishments with increasing study abroad participation, she believes there is still more to be done. "Not every student has the financial means or is otherwise in the situation to spend a semester or May Term abroad," she said. "The college is committed to increasing scholarship funds for students who are underrepresented in international education and making study abroad accessible to all who are interested. We are actively seeking outside scholarship funds and new and better exchange partners. We make every effort to offer affordable options without sacrificing student health and safety or academic integrity."  

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Krista DeAngelis and Arikka Von
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About Westminster

Westminster is a private, independent, and comprehensive college in Salt Lake City, Utah. Students experience the liberal arts blended with professional programs in an atmosphere dedicated to civic engagement. With the goal of enabling its graduates to live vibrant, just, and successful lives, Westminster provides transformational learning experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students in a truly student-centered environment. Faculty focus on teaching, learning, and developing distinctive, innovative programs, while students thrive on Westminster’s urban Sugar House campus within minutes of the Rocky Mountains.

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