By Haley Doss, Chattanooga, Tenn. —

The Study Abroad and International Exchange programs are making changes to strengthen student global experience and education.

Over the course of the last year, the department has been striving to make changes regarding scholarships, new faculty and programs as well as the basic construct of how they connect with and advise students.

With the student decision of new allocation of funding, there will be more opportunities for the study abroad program to provide larger scholarships to students. This funding will also provide travelers insurance for those in the program. The new scholarship qualifications are being drafted and are expected to be released in November. The scholarships will be assisting students by January 2016.

Takeo Suzuki, Executive Director of International Programs at UTC, recently took the position this fall.

Suzuki has a passion for making the city of Chattanooga known on a global scale. He hopes to increase the number of international students coming to UTC as well as the number of students who choose to travel abroad. He feels that the more connections that are made around the world, the better it will be.

“We are trying to put Chattanooga on the world map and we need a lot of help from students. The grass roots exchange, the study abroad programs, this will provide a better world all together. I hope we will be a part of the big scheme,” Suzuki said.

The average rate of students at UTC who study abroad is currently 1 out 50 which is much smaller than the national rate of 1 in 10, according to the Suzuki.

The international programs plan to increase the number of faculty-led trips abroad which seem to be the most popular choice among UTC students. These trips tend to be more appealing because of their shorter time away and the presence of other Americans.

Suzuki encourages students to ask themselves where they would like to travel and for what purpose. He feels that choosing a study abroad destination should be a serious process and should be the decision of the student, never one strictly chosen by the program.

Molly Burdine, a senior and pre-professional biology major from Ardmoe, Tenn., traveled to Turku, Finland last semester through the ISEP Exchange Program. She appreciates allowing students the opportunity to choose the destination, and although she did not choose hers, it worked out for her in the end.

“I love the idea of providing students the option to have first choice on where they will be traveling, for those students who have always dreamed of waking up in London or want to go to Paris for an intensive French course, but for me the randomness of being chosen to go to Turku, Finland opened up a brand new world for me,” Burdine stated, “and I have the ISEP Exchange Program, the amazing people working with the Study Abroad Office, and the students and exchange students of Turku Uni to thank for all of that.”

Another addition to the program will be a center for global education. This center is expected to strengthen global education and student experience. The program plans to hire up to five people for this new expansion.

The overall purpose of these changes is to make it easier for students to travel internationally both to UTC and abroad, which will ultimately mean the globalizing Chattanooga as a whole.