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MU Praises Study Abroad Bill Introduced in U.S. House

Bill's goal is to increase study abroad participation to 1 million students per year

March 15, 2007

Story Contact:  Katherine Kostiuk, 573-882-3346,

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Brady Deaton, chancellor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, today praised the introduction of the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act of 2007, legislation that would establish a national study abroad fellowship program aimed at increasing the number of students studying abroad to 1 million per year.

The program would be administered by an independent entity and would provide key support for necessary modifications at institutions of higher education to allow all college students the opportunity to study abroad. The bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“International education is more important than ever for today's students,” Deaton said. “Studying abroad equips students with the tools they need to understand our increasingly interconnected world and to create successful futures, not only for themselves but also for our country and world. By increasing the number of students studying abroad, this bill has the potential to improve our economic competitiveness and future in diplomacy and security.”

Nationwide, approximately 200,000 undergraduate students studied abroad in the 2004-2005 school year, according to Open Doors 2006, the most recently annual report on international education published by the Institute of International Education with funding from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act of 2007 would aim to increase this number, as well as ensure that the demographics of study-abroad participation reflects the U.S. undergraduate population and that an increasing portion of study abroad students go to currently nontraditional study abroad destinations.

MU currently offers more than 400 study abroad programs in 55 different countries. Last year, more than 800 MU students studied abroad.

“In today's world, people must learn to communicate effectively across cultural and linguistic boundaries. Study abroad is one of the best ways to sharpen these skills. It makes students more competitive in the job market, and it makes them better citizens,” said Jim Scott, director of the MU International Center.

The study abroad legislation is named after the late Senator Paul Simon (D-IL), who was a strong proponent of international education. His efforts led to the creation of the bipartisan Commission on the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program. Many of the recommendations contained in the Commission's 2005 report Global Competence and National Needs: One Million Students Studying Abroad, are included in this legislation.

“One million students studying abroad per year will transform our country, in a positive and powerful way,” said Peter McPherson, President of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC) and former chair of the Commission on the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program. “For the American workforce to be competitive in the global marketplace, our students need experience in and knowledge about the world outside the U.S.”

Last year a similar bill in the U.S. Senate received bipartisan support and had 46 co-sponsors before the session ended. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Norm Coleman (R-MN) will re-introduce a Senate bill in the near future.

Founded in 1887, the NASULGC is a voluntary association of public research universities, land-grant institutions and many state university systems. Its 215 members enroll more than 3.6 million students, award approximately a half-million degrees annually and have an estimated 20 million alumni.

For more information about the Abraham Lincoln Commission on Study Abroad or to download the report Global Competence and National Needs: One Million Students Studying Abroad, visit the Web site.