INTERNATIONAL SHORT TERM EXPERIENCES
Universities around the world are looking to increase the number of students attending international experiences. They are making an effort to design and conduct successful and attractive short-term and long-term study abroad experiences. However, the design of successful international courses faces multiple challenges and limitations. The most important challenges and limitations that the universities are facing when designing short-term and long-term study abroad experiences are 1) the perception of the student about the difficulty and risks of traveling abroad, 2) the cost to participate in those experiences 3) the time restrain, and 4) the lack or limitedness of information about the courses that they can take abroad and transfer to their home university. In 2011, UPAEP University, a private university in Puebla, Mexico selected summer short-term abroad experiences at Oklahoma State University to encourage students to travel abroad and to address the four challenges that are mentioned above.
Short-term study abroad experiences are described as international experiences guided and supervised by a professor from the same university where the students are enrolled for their undergraduate studies (Sachau, Brasher, & Fee, 2010). Short-term study abroad experiences address the concept of uncertainty of the students traveling abroad, because the students travel as a group guided by their own professor. The amount of money and the length of the short-term study abroad programs is also an advantage. The students require less money to travel abroad because they travel for a short period of time. Finally, UPAEP University addresses the fourth challenge by enrolling the students in six or nine credit hours (2-3 courses) at UPAEP University before they take the short-term study abroad experience. UPAEP University professors design the courses abroad and make them match with the courses in the students’ undergraduate plan of studies and the students’ academic requirements. The participant students were enrolled at Oklahoma State University during the summer of 2011 in one of the following four main areas. These areas are Biotechnology, Robotics, Industrial Engineering, or Communication Sciences designing.
The UPAEP short-term study abroad programs at Oklahoma State University were a success. The success of this program was based on the accurate addressing of the four main challenges, planning process, as well as the careful selection of the professors involved in the program. Additionally, the solid relationship between Oklahoma State University and UPAEP has also contributed for the success of the program. The students’ evaluations especially, regarding to the security, length, cost and academic course transfer were positive.