ALLEGANY, N.Y. – In November 2005, the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution designating 2006 as the “Year of Study Abroad.” Included in the resolution was the Senate encouragement for higher education institutions to promote and expand study abroad opportunities for American students.
Study abroad at St. Bonaventure University is multi-faceted, including short-term and long-term options for students. There are short-term, usually two- to four-week, programs that allow students to take advantage of time during the summer months or the winter break to earn academic credit in a multitude of disciplines and countries.
Short programs are faculty-led opportunities. While many are foreign language sessions, new options are being developed to include business and political science. “Opportunities for short term study are ideal for students who cannot spend a semester away,” said Alice Sayegh, director of international studies at St. Bonaventure University. “These work for students who are tied to activities, athletics, campus positions, etc., during the school year.” Sayegh indicated that most of the short programs offer between three and six academic credits. The most prominent of these programs is the Francis E. Kelly Oxford program, which began in 1992.
For students interested in longer-term experiences, there are more than 50 options to spend one or more semesters abroad. Many of these programs have been in existence for more than 20 years. These programs attract not only SBU students but are open to students from other institutions. Over the years, students from more than 400 U.S. institutions have participated in SBU-sponsored overseas academic programs.
“St. Bonaventure has a solid reputation nationwide in the arena of international education,” said Sayegh. “We provide quality, affordable academic programming and support that programming with a Bonaventure transcript. We have been providing SBU transcripts of overseas academic studies to our own students and students from other U.S. colleges and universities over the years.
“We have long and established relationships with schools such as Cornell University, Catholic University of America, Colgate University, Manhattanville College and the College of St. Rose to name a few.”
Membership in the CCIS (College Consortium for International Studies) allows the university to promote its programs; CCIS also provides the university enrollment, advertising and promotional support. CCIS partnerships also allow St. Bonaventure to sponsor and access academic programs. St. Bonaventure is among the top five sending institutions for study abroad enrollment in the CCIS. “I think people would be surprised at the status a school the size of SBU holds in the realm of international education among our colleagues,” she said.
Through membership in the CCIS, SBU sponsors programs in Australia, Ireland and Spain. All of these programs are partnerships with U.S. co-sponsors and overseas host institutions. “The mission of CCIS includes an inclusive component and encourages diverse institutions to come together to provide the best overseas programming possible,” said Sayegh.
The “Semester in Spain” program in Seville, the oldest SBU study abroad program, begun in 1984, is a partnership with Broward Community College, part of the Florida state system. “CCIS encourages two- and four-year institutions, private and public, to work together to provide as many opportunities as possible to as many students as we can reach out to,” said Sayegh.
In addition to the established SBU sites in Ireland (three locations) and Australia (three locations), there are also many overseas academic sites in non-English speaking countries, including China, Peru, Argentina, France and Morocco. A complete listing of SBU program sites can be found using the link below.
Program opportunities abroad are open to students from all majors and disciplines. “We have developed a good working list over the years of programs which lend themselves almost seamlessly to certain majors,” Sayegh explained. “We have semester and full-year programs that suit students in the professional schools, including business, journalism and education. Additionally, we have had good results with students in the arts and sciences in many of our programs. Our program at the University of Limerick, Ireland, has been a great fit for our science students. Traditionally, science programs have been difficult to slot students into, mainly because of the nature of lab hours, but we have been able to work through those issues, course by course and lab by lab.” Sayegh noted that faculty in all of the university academic areas has been supportive of students in their departments pursuing overseas studies programs.
Scholarship availability for study abroad has increased over the years. The estate of F. Donald Kenney, an Olean native, offers endowed scholarships in the form of International Scholars Awards to SBU students for study in Ireland, England and Finland. “We work creatively to put a financial package together that will allow a student to pursue an overseas semester or year,” said Sayegh. “We also explore the best combination of federal/state monies, along with private scholarships and awards for each student.”