International council ends year with initiatives
By Catherine Doss
Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 31 - May 21, 1998
With the goal of developing appropriate policies and procedures to ensure the integration of international activities on a university-wide basis, the University Council on International Programs (UCIP) has ended the academic year with several initiatives under way.
"The ultimate goal of the UCIP is to support the efforts of all campus units in achieving the strategic direction of the Academic Agenda dealing with internationalizing the university experience," said Provost Peggy S. Meszaros, who chairs the council.
Among the initiatives the council has undertaken this year have been examination of procedures for accounting and recording international students at the university, consideration of plans to increase the number of Virginia Tech students studying abroad and to increase undergraduate international enrollment, examination of more explicit ways to reward international service at the college level, and development of a more standardized procedure for processing memoranda of understanding (MOU's) for collaborative programs with universities overseas.
Members of the UCIP discovered early in the academic year that statistics on international students at the university were not consistent due to various means of defining, accounting for, and recording these students among several administrative offices. With input from the University Office of International Programs (UOIP), the Cranwell International Center, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, the Graduate School, and the University Office of Institutional Research, a task group has begun development of a single set of accounting procedures for university-wide use.
The council has enthusiastically endorsed a proposal by the UOIP to increase the number of students engaging in study-abroad activities such as student exchanges, faculty-led tours, and courses at the university's Center for European Studies and Architecture (CESA) in Switzerland. During 1996-97, 458 students studied abroad. UOIP hopes to increase that number to 1,000 by academic year 2000-01.
UOIP also recommended, and the council endorsed, a goal of increasing the total number of graduate and undergraduate international students to 6 percent of total university enrollment. The UOIP has set a goal of increasing undergraduate international-student enrollment from 1.2 percent in fall 1996 to 2.7 percent by fall 2001.
Encouraged by learning of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' successful procedure for rewarding international service by faculty members, the council discussed the importance of other colleges adopting similar measures.
"We need to create a higher profile for international activities by faculty members," Meszaros said. "And we need to ensure that administration continues to support, enhance, and enrich Virginia Tech's international mission."
Finally, the council examined and adopted two consistent procedural approaches for processing MOU's. One, for sponsored international research, is handled through the Office of International Research and Development. The other, for linkage agreements that normally do not call for a financial commitment from the university, will be handled by UOIP.
"We've had an informative and productive year," Meszaros said. "Our monthly meetings have brought to light a number of issues regarding international activities at this university. I think everyone on the council has gained new insights and understandings to take back and share with their individual departments."
The council is made up of representatives from each college as well as other departments with international involvement.
International activities across campus will continue to be covered in the university's Global Network newsletter. Accomplishments regarding the university's international strategic direction will be published in an Academic Agenda progress report to be distributed in the fall.