How is Education Abroad Related to the College-University Mission Statement?

It is important to draw justification for a study abroad program from the college/university mission statement. Look for excerpts from mission statements and senior level administration for internationalizing the curriculum, developing students with a global perspective, preparing students for a global workforce, etc.

Write a mission statement for study abroad that makes it a priority to integrate international education services into the foundation of the college/university mission. A study abroad office mission includes an academic enhancement role and student support services. It is essential to include with your mission statement, some measurable intended outcomes for study abroad. Your statements of intended outcomes will guide your policies and practice.

It is also important to understand that every institution invests dollars and staff in endeavors that support and enhance the institutional mission and outcomes. Just as we see different levels of support for campus housing on various campuses, we also see different levels of support for international education.

Study abroad has long been considered an elective or “luxury” experience and thus has not been tied to the core values (and therefore finances) of most institutions. The closer you correlate study abroad with institutional priorities, the more leverage you will have in gaining support for your endeavors.

An example of a campus mission statement that is easily identifiable with education abroad.

Mission Statement:

We educate students to put the liberal arts into action as citizens in a global society.

And they go on to describe their core values as:

Academic Excellence, Diversity, Equity, and Shared Governance, Education of the Entire Person, Adherence to Common Ethical and Moral Standards Community Service and Global Citizenship, Environmental Stewardship.

This makes it easy to integrate study abroad into the core values of the institution.

Another example of a university mission statement is:

Our mission is to educate and nurture students, to create knowledge, and to provide service to our community and beyond. Committed to excellence and proud of the diversity of our University family, we strive to develop future leaders of our nation and the world.

However, some university mission statements require a little more work to integrate international education into the core values. For example consider the following mission statement

Our mission is to discover, create, transmit, and apply knowledge to address the needs of individuals and society. This mission is accomplished through instruction, which communicates the knowledge and values and imparts the skills necessary for individuals to lead responsible, productive, and personally satisfying lives; through research, scholarship, and creative activities, which advance knowledge and enhance the educational process; and through public service, which contributes to the solution of societal problems and enriches the quality of life in the State.

And yet other university mission statements do not lend themselves easily to integrating international education as a core value.

Our mission as a multipurpose public institution is to develop educated persons of inquiring, creative, and disciplined intelligence to be competent in careers that are fulfilling and to be socially responsible contributors to society. This University strives, therefore, to graduate people on the bachelor’s and master’s level who have had sound education in the arts and sciences and relevant specialized training built upon that base.

A study abroad office mission statement can also come in many diverse forms and visions. The following mission statement is an example of a diverse vision:

The Office for Study Abroad promotes opportunities for global education to all eligible students in order for them to gain an understanding of other countries, regions, languages, and cultures through direct overseas experience.

Some universities have taken the approach of being very explicit about their connection to the institution’s core values:

In support of the University’s mission to “promote the process of lifelong learning from both global and integrative perspectives,” the Office for Study Abroad offers international education opportunities to students through the University’s overseas study centers, international exchange partners, and affiliated organizations. As an extension of the University’s academic program, we promote academic excellence and provide access to high quality international education programs in expanding geographic destinations to serve a diverse student population representing a wide array of academic disciplines. As educators, we facilitate the academic, personal, professional, and intercultural development of students through the programs and services we provide.

And one more example of a carefully crafted mission statement that not only integrates international education into the university core value, but also sets criteria and objectives for policy:

We are a world leader in research, teaching, and public engagement. Many hands – at home and abroad – make it so, and many benefit. Study abroad is one of the ways in which our students and others build and benefit from our University’s international engagement.

Our mission is to provide and facilitate a range of study and education opportunities abroad consonant in breadth and quality with on-campus curricula, offered for short or long duration according to curricular objectives and in consideration of students’ obligations, at a range of costs and with opportunities for scholarship or subvention such that study abroad opportunity is available to all students in good standing. Attention to students’ health, safety, and well-being abroad underlies all other considerations.

Our intention is that through study abroad we and our partners prepare students for global citizenship, guiding them to a greater understanding of world and domestic cultures and encouraging them to share that understanding with their hosts abroad and communities at home; that students gain or enhance area, linguistic, subject, and cultural knowledge and competence; that students contribute to their host communities; and that students emerge wiser and more engaged citizens