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‘Bienvenue Bearcats’ — France Tops List for UC Study Abroad


UC International takes learning across the globe, adding faculty research and development programs as part of a strategic new partnership with Université de Bordeaux.

Date: 11/17/2016 12:00:00 AM
By: Melanie Schefft
Phone: (513) 556-5213
Other Contact: John Bach
Photos By: Provided

UC ingot   “Incroyable!” France was ranked the most popular location for study-abroad programs according to a University of Cincinnati report. The number of students studying abroad last year topped out at 1,722, placing UC at No. 37 among the top national doctorate-granting institutions for sending students abroad for study or co-ops/internships.

Top UC study-abroad destinations by number of students
  • France - 222
    Group of men and women standing together at the University of Bordeaux in Paris, France
    UC's strategic partnership collaboration team

  • UK - 178
  • Italy - 151
  • Germany - 133
  • Japan - 94
  • China - 91
  • Spain - 88
  • Mexico - 80
  • Canada - 75
  • Guatemala - 73
  • Hong Kong - 70
France’s popularity with the students has risen in large part because of a dynamic new research collaboration UC International forged with members of the University of Bordeaux (UBx) near Paris. And while students at UC increasingly co-op, research and dance their way across the globe through a variety of international programs, UC faculty can also get in on the act.

UC’s collaboration team –– including UC Interim President Beverly Davenport (then provost), as well as deans, faculty and administrators –– signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” with UBx in 2014 that not only opens more opportunities for student collaboration, but helps bolster UC faculty “compétences pédagogique” (teaching skills) by investing in faculty-mentoring-faculty opportunities.

“I think we’re really doing something special here,” says Anne Fugard, executive director for UC International Programs (study abroad). “While the UC International team has been building these strategic partnerships all over the world, Raj Mehta [UC vice provost for international affairs] has also developed cross-college teams of faculty to look at who our key partners are and how faculty can benefit from study-abroad alliances.

“Within our global network, the European strategy group has been very successful for forging that perfect model of strategic partnership for not only student mobility, but also faculty research collaboration,” Fugard continues. “And the key partnership developed and valued by both institutions is evident as UC and UBx were nominated for funding from the Erasmus+ program financed by the European Union to focus on mobility.”

A prime example of this collaboration has been the successful partnership between William Connick, UC professor of chemistry, and the department of chemistry at UBx.

Last year Connick’s program enabled his chemistry students to collaborate intensively throughout the semester with students at UBx via video conferencing, says Fugard. Connick and his students then traveled to France over spring break to complete the groundwork with the students at UBx. To enhance the exchange, Bordeaux students traveled to Cincinnati in April and this program will repeat in spring 2017.

Additional faculty-led groups who went to UBx last spring included engineering students, students out of the Carl H. Lindner College of Business and an international studies group. Fugard says more will travel there in 2016-17.

Bridging the Gap

Appeals to internationalize college student curriculums all over the country have grown in the last decade. Since 2009-10, there has been a 113-percent increase in study-abroad participation at UC.

According to UC’s International Profile Report, the number of students studying abroad last year topped out at 1,722, which includes:
  • Semester-long programs
  • Co-ops or for-credit internship programs
  • Non-UC programs (direct enroll in another domestic or international university)
  • Faculty-led programs
Portrait of a man facing forward
Raj Mehta, UC vice provost for international affairs

“To boost our international programs we have $1 million in scholarship funding from the provost’s office and another $100,000 given annually as development grants to support faculty development for study abroad,” says Fugard. “This is all part of our 2019 initiative.

“When we look at the positive direction UC International is going, [vice provost] Mehta’s powerful vision for what needs to happen in international, especially for giving back to the faculty, has been instrumental.”

“He focuses strongly on the students, but is constantly reminding us how it’s the faculty that are driving all of this,” Fugard adds.

Half of the development grants ($50,000) allow faculty to travel to their destination ahead of time to secure their contacts at the university, check out the hotel and finalize their arrangements before they run the program.

Fugard says the other $50,000 in grants also allow new faculty members to go along with a seasoned faculty member to be mentored and learn how to run their own study-abroad program. The UC Honors Study-Abroad program recently took classes to Iceland, the Amazon, and another class will go to Australia in December.

Most students surveyed say they prefer going as a group with a faculty member they trust, especially in a course designed for their major. This way it fits into their curriculum, UC arranges the logistics, and they travel together as a group.

A professor on left speaks with a student on right sitting at a desk.photo/Melanie Schefft
Anne Fugard helps integrate an international study abroad into a student's curriculum.

Life ‘abroad’ finds a way


By fostering research collaboration and faculty-mentoring programs, as well as study-abroad courses, UC International intends to equip its educators, as well as its students to meet the shifting social, political and economic demands of our interconnected societies.

Fugard taps into this critical need by working closely with the colleges, as well as with individual students to tailor their study-abroad experiences into their curriculums without sacrificing core courses.

“Many engineering students come to us saying that they can’t do a semester abroad,” Fugard says. “They can’t do a full semester because of their curriculum, and they can’t take engineering courses abroad.

“Of course this isn’t true –– it’s just a bit harder. Many of these students opt to co-op abroad. Last year, 140 participated in a co-op or internship abroad.”

Because co-op programs are slightly different that study abroad –– usually a full 12- to 14-week semester experience –– with four or five individual co-op requirements built into their curriculum, Fugard shows students how co-op study-abroad experiences can work for them.
A chalk sign on a sidewalk leads college students to an info session.photo/Melanie Schefft
UC International runs first-timer info meetings on a walk-in basis every day that school is in session



At the heart of partnerships like the one with the UBx, as well as co-op, internship and faculty-led study-abroad programs, is the critical need to continue creating strong global competencies, says Fugard. “Our graduates are building the essential skills they need –– now more than ever –– for resolving the growing complex challenges in our local and global environment.”

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