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President visits South Korean education partner

UNG President Bonita Jacobs, right, and Sogang University President Ki-Pung Yoo, center, sign an agreement renewing the exchange program between the two schools.

President Bonita Jacobs returned recently from a visit to Seoul, South Korea, to renew the University of North Georgia's (UNG) exchange agreement with Sogang University, one of many efforts in 2013 to maintain the university's existing international partnerships and forge new ones.

Korea Exchange 2
UNG President Bonita Jacobs visited
Sogang University in December to renew
an exchange agreement between the
two schools.

In a survey by the Association of International Educators, 43 percent of Americans believe it is essential to the educational experience for students to study abroad, learn foreign languages and learn about other cultures. At UNG, some 185 international students were enrolled during fall semester and more than 200 UNG students study abroad each year, taking advantage of the university's mission to help students become globally competent citizens.

"Our administrators, faculty and staff have been very successful in building partnerships around the world to expand our language and culture programs to support students’ development as leaders in an ever-growing global society," Jacobs said. "Our ongoing partnership with Sogang University specifically helps our students interested in studying Korean and further cements our language efforts."

While students benefit from exposure to international cultures and peoples, figures indicate that bringing international students to the United States also benefits the economy.

Analysis by the Association of International Educators shows that three American jobs are created or supported for every seven international students enrolled in American schools, and generates spending in the sectors of higher education, accommodation, dining, retail, transportation, telecommunications, and health insurance. In 2012, the economic benefit to Georgia from the enrollment of international students in schools across the state was $501 million dollars and supported 7,239 jobs, according to a study by the association.

John Wilson, acting director of the university's Center for Global Engagement, agrees that bringing international students and faculty members to northeast Georgia can benefit the local economy and the community.

"Every time we have a student or a professor visit us, it expands the university's exposure and the community's exposure," Wilson said. "Additionally, making contact with professors opens up the possibility for expanded community involvement and we're exploring opportunities with many groups."

This summer, Jacobs also visited Germany to finalize a new exchange agreement with Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), and to discuss a new internship program for UNG cadets at the NATO School in Oberammergau. Representatives from schools in Taiwan and China have visited UNG this year to propose exchanges, and the university also is working on new partnerships with schools in Italy, Latvia, and Oman, Wilson said.

"There is enormous interest in our school, and I am honored to be able to provide some leadership in making UNG known throughout the nation and world as a university on the cutting edge of internationalization," Wilson said. "These students enrich our university by bringing with them a new perspective on ideas and viewpoints."

In addition to study abroad opportunities, UNG also offers degree programs in 10 world languages and international affairs. UNG supports a number of international initiatives, including the Cadet English Language Training Team, which includes 1,300 cadets from around the country and the Federal Service Language Academy, which offers intensive language instruction to high school students. In 2011, UNG was designated an ROTC flagship university to instruct cadets in Chinese.

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