LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 26, 2011) — According to a 2010 Open Doors report from the Institute of International Education, Kentucky colleges and universities sent 2,946 students abroad on credit-bearing international programs in 2008-09. However, compared to neighboring states (Indiana: 9,049; Ohio: 10,980; Virginia: 8,508; and Tennessee: 4,033), the Commonwealth is falling behind regions that share similar student demographics.
In addition, Kentucky students may need more international knowledge and skills that will enable them to live and work successfully in a continually globalizing workforce.
"Many of our state's international educators were troubled by the Open Doors findings and have been brainstorming ways to work collectively to enhance education abroad programming," said UK's Director of Education Abroad Anthony Ogden. "Now is the time to host a statewide gathering of education abroad professionals and really begin to make change."
Ogden and his colleagues will launch the first meeting of the Kentucky Council on Education Abroad (KCEA) Wednesday, Oct. 26, at UK.
The first assembly of the KCEA, an organization open to all Kentucky-based institutions and professionals with interest in U.S. education abroad programming, will focus on four initial goals:
- The need to share best practices for the advancement of education abroad programming in Kentucky.
- The need to enhance the image of Kentucky within the larger international education community.
- The need to enhance professional development opportunities for education abroad professionals in Kentucky.
- The need to collaborate to better address barriers and improve access to education abroad for under-represented populations.
Ogden expects approximately 60 individuals representing nearly 40 different institutions in attendance at the initial meeting. Participants range from flagship universities to small, private institutions.
"The response from around the state has been overwhelming," the Kentucky native said. "This is long overdue. We’re all in this together, and I want everyone to be successful."
Recognition of the importance of international education is not a new idea; Kentucky's state government was one of the first states to pass a resolution for international education in 2002 [SCR142].
During his first year as director of Education Abroad at UK, Ogden spent one day at each institution around the state to find out more about international programming within Kentucky.
"Few were collaborating. We belong to regional and national groups, but we had no statewide support," Ogden explained. "It doesn’t make sense, because our students need this type of experience. We have to make sure that students are graduating with the knowledge and skills to succeed in a global world. And education abroad is one way to make sure that students are prepared."
Success with statewide international programming boils down to professional development, sharing best practices and allocating resources, according to Ogden. "Most colleges in Kentucky are working with a similar student demographic," he said. "We can be stronger and more successful if we work together."
In the short-term, Ogden hopes that KCEA representatives return to their respective institutions with a renewed passion to enhance education abroad programming on their campuses. Ultimately, Ogden wants to see an increase in international activity around the state, which also ensures that Kentucky escapes the bottom of the international education rankings.
“We’ve got to break the cycle,” he said. “We have to lift ourselves up; international study and travel is one way to do it. I look forward to collaborating with our colleagues around the state in establishing KCEA and ultimately expanding international education in our Commonwealth."
As the leader of KCEA, Ogden has been invited to make a presentation on the importance of education abroad to the Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education in Frankfort on Nov. 14. He also wants to be ready for the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers 2013 meeting, which will be held in Louisville.
For more information on the KCEA, please contact Ogden at firstname.lastname@example.org or (859) 323-2136.