Robert Morris University President Gregory G. Dell'Omo's commentary ("Small World: Our Students Had Better Get Overseas to Learn How It Works," July 12 Forum) speaks well to an important issue facing many of us in U.S. higher education institutions and, in turn, our nation's ability to successfully engage in international business and affairs.
Mr. Dell'Omo aptly points to the responsibility of higher education to produce graduates with the skills and experience required to compete on an international playing field. Study abroad provides participants with a global competence unmatched by any experience on the home campus. However, often the financial obstacles, as he points out, prevent 98.6 percent of our nation's college students from studying abroad.
Awaiting action in the Senate is the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act. Named after the late senator from Illinois, who believed that a more internationally educated citizenry would "lift our vision and responsiveness to the rest of the world," the Simon Act aims to send 1 million students abroad annually in 10 years' time. It will establish an innovative new structure that will provide financial support to students to study abroad, while at the same time requiring U.S. higher education institutions to address the on-campus factors that impede students' ability to study abroad.
This bill has strong bipartisan support and is endorsed by more than 40 higher education and international education organizations. Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey is a co-sponsor. I urge my fellow citizens to take action to support this bill