(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Winthrop University is working to increase the number of students who study abroad and recruit more international students to the school.
The move comes after the number of international students at Winthrop has steadily declined in recent years and the number of students who study abroad has remained stagnant.
The Winthrop Plan, put forth by President Dan Mahony, includes a stated goal of increasing diversity by expanding student recruitment internationally.
Dr. Leigh Poole, director of the International Center, spoke with the Palmetto Report about the study abroad program and the international student population on campus, which stands at about 100 students.
Poole said the university has implemented a new recruiting program called International Eagles Abroad, which uses current international students as ambassadors to recruit internationally and promote study at Winthrop.
The program encourages the students, when visiting their home country during a school break, to sign up to give a presentation in a local class and share their experiences studying in the U.S.
“Any student who meets the academic requirements of admissions is eligible to become a student here at Winthrop,” said Poole.
She said Winthrop is also making an effort to encourage students to study abroad by raising awareness of the international opportunities that are available.
For example, new students are shown a presentation on the study abroad program during orientation.
Poole said there are numerous study abroad programs that are available to Winthrop students, including short-term trips of about 10 days or long-term programs that can last a semester or a full academic year.
“One size does not definitely fit all,” she said.
All Winthrop students are eligible to study abroad, as long as they are “in good standing academically and financially,” said Poole.
The International Center also offers an interactive one-credit course to students who are interested in learning more about studying abroad, but haven’t yet committed to the program.
Poole said the class is a great option, because it allows students to interact with their peers and the faculty and staff from the International Center.
Winthrop also offers a study abroad fair during the fall semester, which is required for all students enrolled in ACAD classes.
“Even though this is a required event, it is one that we love because it allows for them to meet with us and get to know us,” Poole said.
She said this experience is helpful, because it exposes students to study abroad opportunities early in their academic careers.
According to Poole, the promotional efforts seem to be working.
“We have a strong social media presence. I’m excited that we’ve had a 246 percent increase this academic year in our followers,” she said.
* Margaux Adamczyk, Natacha Christ and Jacob Stiling contributed to this report.