The costs associated with non-participation are intuitive, lack of global literacy and intercultural insight, but in addition who would have imagined that these students are also passing up an educational experience that boosts learning outcomes and degree-attainment. Yet, that is exactly what a Department of Education funded, 10-year study indicated in 2010. The irony is that the very group of students who typically do not study abroad were identified as the ones to benefit the most.
"The Georgia Learning Outcomes for Students Studying Abroad Research Initiative (GLOSSARI) project provides strong evidence that African-American students who study abroad have significantly higher graduation rates than similar students who did not. Studying abroad may be an important intervention strategy for at-risk students. Increasing the capacity and improving the design of study abroad programs may yield significant improvement in graduation rates," says Dr. Richard C. Sutton, director of the GLOSSARI project and executive director of international programs at West Kentucky University's OIP.
"This is why there is an IERC Education Foundation - why we launched the Study Abroad/Global Engagement (SAGE) Consortium for 11 North Carolina Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). This is why we all must work together to use the evidence," pronounced Steven W. Jones, president/CEO of IERCEF. The government-funded research project produced groundbreaking results that could lead to improving minority student success in higher education if more students participate in study abroad programs. "The vision of our SAGE Consortium is to act on such evidence by reaching out to Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) like HBCUs state by state rather than only student by student. We offer an institutional capacity-building message as well," he added.
"As I said last year, minority and other diverse, underserved, student populations are not prepared for a competitive, global society in sufficient numbers. That is why North Carolina HBCUs agreed to collaborate to expand our academic capacity via study abroad. It's about preparing our students for the next level," stated Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr. president of Livingstone College and convener of the NC SAGE Consortium. "For too long, HBCU students have not had enough access to study abroad opportunities and its benefits. The SAGE model is the right step in providing more access and opportunities,"
"At the end of the day it's about graduating and gainful employment; look at the graduate employment gap African Americans face; something must be done now rather than later, that's our focus," notes Samuel A. Brooks IERCEF's executive vice-president. In this economic climate where everyone is looking to uncover more value and increase capacity, the student retention and degree-attainment implications of the GLOSSARI report are significant. IERCEF's SAGE Consortium model is as stated above, "a cost-effective approach" to increasing African American study abroad participation, via HBCU collaboration. This is perhaps one of the newest and most innovative efforts within the HBCU community to significantly improve student success.