A New Model for Institutions

By: Deb Regan, IEP Campus Coordinator

Recruiting students, retaining students, and staying financially sound. These are all at the forefront of most U.S University agendas recently. To counter these concerns many turn to cutting costs or eliminating programs. For one IEP partner, they were struggling in all 3 areas so they turned to innovation and an entire new model to pull them back.

So what did they do? They created a seven multi-disciplinary, integrated cluster system (such as Tourism, Environment and Sustainable Development) with an emphasis on research, service and education. The university is doing this by developing open labs and expanding partnerships with businesses and organizations. Their end goal – they hope this results in students and faculty across all academic areas working together on real-world projects, which in turn will benefit everyone involved.  Students will be drawn to the model, hence growing recruitment, stay enrolled due to their connectivity to their projects, hence increasing their retention rates. And at the top of their list, students will graduate with a diploma in one hand and an enhanced resume in the other, making them highly competitive for today’s job market. Sounds great, but how does study abroad fit in?

First, like most universities, their vision is to help produce global leaders. They know that there is perhaps no better way for our students to develop the skills that are necessary than living and learning in another culture.

They foresee growth in short-term programs, in particular, as faculty work together across disciplines and plan for international components to their projects. With a multi-disciplinary approach, the likelihood of success, in terms of student enrollments, is greatly enhanced. And, the goals or intent of these programs will perhaps be more focused and purposeful. This can only add more value to the student experience.

With curriculum integration in mind, they will be exploring host institutions that align most closely with the academic areas involved in each cluster. Further, they will be looking for programs/locations that will allow students to continue with project-related activities, be it service learning, internships, research etc.

Whether students participate in short-term, semester, or academic year programs, everyone learns with this model as students (and faculty) can return to their clusters to share what they have learned with classmates who may not have been able to take advantage of an international opportunity.

Which brings up one final point. As the university expands its partnerships with businesses….and businesses receive the benefit of projects completed by students, especially those with a global component….just maybe, we will see new resources for study abroad scholarships!

We are closely watching as this new model unfolds. As an organization that values innovation and new ideas as industries shift, we are right there along their side ready to jump to the call to action.