This academic year the Study Abroad office has undergone a few changes that are expected to increase the involvement of the University of Wyoming in the global community and international education.
The name of the office was changed from Study Abroad to Education Abroad. Also, it became a part of the Global Engagement Office, together with the International Students and Scholars office and English Center. Moreover, a new director and advisor were hired.
“We started with two people in Education Abroad office. Now here is four of us. So, we are hoping with four people we will be able to develop the ideas of traveling and studying abroad and letting student[s] know that it’s possible,” Amanda Poppe, the new advisor of Education Abroad office, said.
She says the main reason there is not many students from UW willing to enroll in exchange programs is that students don’t know about all the opportunities provided by UW and partner universities overseas.
“There is a lot of scholarship money available for students upon the travel to other countries for a semester, or for a year. The problem is that a lot of students don’t know about it,” Poppe says. “Sometimes it turns [out] that it’s too late for them during [the] semester or even their degree to go abroad.”
A new director and new advisor of Education Abroad office came to UW with new ideas on how to improve the work done by the office, how to attract more students to go abroad and already set goals for the next year. First, they are looking for ways to make the information about exchange, study abroad, faculty-led and internship programs more accessible for students.
“The approach we’re going to take is thinking about our services from a student’s perspective and understand what are the barriers keeping them from applying for programs. We want to look at all our materials and the website to see how we can make the information more easily accessible, more easily understood. I think we have so many options for students, but sometimes that could be very overwhelming to think about where to start the whole process, and which type of program will work best,” the new director, Shelley Jewell, said. “We would like to help students through looking at their degree plan, what they are studying here, how could we maximize that particular program overseas and which locations are going to be best for students according to their plans.”
Moreover, the Education Abroad office set a new marketing plan that includes brand development and active promotion of programs in social media.
“Also we are working really hard on thinking about our overall marketing strategy and branding ourselves here on campus. So, when students see UWyo Abroad, they will know about our office and come talk to us,” says Jewell.
The importance of using pictures for social media is a priority to help gain student interest in UWyo Abroad.
“We definitely want more of our presence in Instagram, where UW students, who are abroad, could share their pictures from foreign countries and international students here on campus could share their photos of Wyoming. It promotes [the] idea of constantly checking out something new and getting to know about other cultures,” Poppe said.
Another change that is expected to promote the involvement of UW in the global community and to show the importance of international education is the reorganization of the Global Engagement Office and hiring new people.
“Before we had three different offices: ISS, Education Abroad and the English Center. They worked on their own. Now there is the Global Engagement office that include[s] all of them, so it could be managed by a central director that will be able to coordinate all three of them and make them work together,” Saverio Zappacosta, student-worker at the Education Abroad office, said.