LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 27, 2023) — During the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear to staff in the University of Kentucky International Center that one of the biggest challenges associated with re-starting international travel and education abroad programming would be to provide adequate support for students as they navigated a more complex international travel landscape and experienced living in an unfamiliar cultural context. Further, UK International Center staff were very aware that there are widely differing cultural attitudes related to student support in other countries around the world.
“We wanted to ensure that our students had the same level of support on programs abroad that they would have had here at home,” said Jason Hope, director of global risk and strategic operations. “As we initiated conversations about re-starting international travel with universities abroad, we discovered key differences in how they handle subjects like risk management and student well-being, with universities in the U.S. often having a more ‘higher touch’ approach to these issues. This was an eye-opening experience for many of our partners too, who didn’t fully understand the student support culture at a university like UK until the pandemic forced some of those discussions.”
To capitalize on these evolving conversations, the German-American Fulbright Commission approached UK to host a weeklong seminar focused on risk and regulatory issues in international education — the first of its seminars held in the U.S. since 2019 and the first ever on this topic.
“We had never offered a program that was centered on these issues,” said Carolin Weingart-Ridoutt, program officer for Fulbright Germany. “But UK gained a reputation as a leader in this area during the pandemic, and we thought it would be an excellent place to explore these cultural differences in greater depth.”
Fifteen administrators in international education from universities across Germany are on UK’s campus this week to engage in critical conversations on international education in the U.S. and the ways it differs from European models. These administrators have a wide range of professional backgrounds at their home institutions — from advising study abroad students to implementing broad internationalization strategies across their universities. Leaders from the International Center, the Office for Student Success, UK Risk Management, the College of Education and the UK Police Department will be involved, as will leading international education risk managers from universities around the U.S. In addition to exploring these issues at UK, the group will spend a day at Centre College to learn about how liberal arts colleges tackle these same challenges.
“It is clear that the world is becoming more and more connected every day, and mutual understanding is going to be critical to the increasingly complex ways in which we engage with our partners abroad,” said Associate Provost for Internationalization Sue Roberts. “We’re proud to showcase UK to these visitors, and we’re also hoping to use this as an opportunity to reflect critically on the work that we do and to see it through their eyes. This is the sort of cross-cultural collaboration that keeps us all moving forward.”
As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.
In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.