U.Va. Continues to See Increase in Study-Abroad Participation

Nov. 16, 2007 — The University of Virginia has continued to see an increase in the number and percentage of students who chose to participate in study-abroad programs, according to an annual report released by the Institute of International Education and data from the University’s International Studies Office.

Open Doors, the IIE's annual report on international activities, shows that U.Va. ranked 14th among all U.S. colleges and universities for study-abroad participation among its students, based on data from the 2005-06 academic year. That year, 1,712 U.Va. students traveled abroad, up from 1,684 in the previous report.

The University had ranked 10th a year ago and 17th two years ago. The shifting rankings reflects increasing emphasis that all colleges and universities are placing on international study, according to Rebecca Brown, director of U.Va.’s International Studies Office.

The Open Doors report indicated that study abroad increased by 8.5 percent nationwide, to a total of 223,534 students, and that the number of American students receiving academic credit for their study abroad has increased by 150 percent in the past decade, from fewer than 90,000 students in 1995-96.

In addition to total number of participants, U.Va. ranked 22nd among doctoral/research universities in the percentage of undergraduates who studied abroad in 2005-06, at 36.3 percent.

U.Va. ranked 19th in the doctoral/research university category in the number of students (859) participating in “short-term duration programs,” which are defined as those that take place during the summer, January term, or those which have a duration of eight weeks or less. The University began its January term in 2005, and eight study-abroad programs will be offered in the upcoming January term 2008, in Belize, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, Italy, Nicaragua and Spain.

While the Open Doors report reflects only the 2005-06 academic year, the International Studies Office can already report that the trend of increased study abroad continued into 2006-07. During that year, 1,914 graduate and undergraduate students studied abroad, compared with 1,875 that the International Studies office recorded in 2005-06.

Marina S. Markot, associate director of study abroad at U.Va., notes that the discrepancy between the figures in the Open Door study (1,712) and U.Va.'s figures is because the Open Door study counts only U.S. students.

Of the 1,914 students who participated in 2006-07, 1,436 were undergraduates and 478 were graduate students. The number of undergraduate students who studied or conducted research abroad in 2006-07 represents 42 percent of the graduating class of 2006.

The Open Doors study showed that while the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain are the top three destinations, students are opting for more varied locales. The percentage of students going to Asia is up 26 percent, Latin America is up 14 percent, Africa is up 19 percent and the Middle East is up 31 percent.

According to Markot, the University’s program remains anchored in its long-standing programs, like U.Va. programs in Jordan; Lima, Peru; Lyon, France; Oxford, England and Valencia, Spain — “programs that have been providing high-quality academic programs for decades and continue to attract students from across Grounds and beyond with innovative ways of providing students with the best possible education.”

For example, U.Va.’s Valencia program now offers an option for students with strong language skills to enroll directly into the Catholic University of Valencia. U.Va. in Peru has expanded its institutional affiliations, and students attending the program now will have access to courses not only at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru, but also at the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya.
But as is true nationally, the number and variety of programs continues to grow. In 2006-2007, U.Va. expanded its offerings in China and Italy, added new programs in Belize, Ghana, Tanzania, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Germany.

“U.Va. in Costa Rica fills the growing demand for more intermediate level Spanish Language courses,” Markot said. “Programs in China covered such areas as intensive Chinese language, Chinese culture, history and politics, architecture, and of course, ‘Doing Business with China.’”

Markot said that, based on feedback from East China Normal University, U.Va. in Shanghai’s language program is considered to be the best intensive Chinese program in Shanghai.
“We paid particular attention last year to developing programs for majors that usually find it challenging to go abroad due to very restrictive curricula,” Markot said. “To respond to the student interest in education abroad, the School of Nursing launched several initiatives that allowed students to conduct their clinical practica overseas – in South Africa, Honduras and Denmark — while the School of Engineering successfully launched an exploratory program, which in its first year took students to Germany to observe German engineering education and visit German engineering firms.”

U.Va. has been the academic sponsor of Semester at Sea for almost two years, and the shipboard education program is currently completing its second voyage under the deanship of a University faculty member. Fifteen U.Va. students were enrolled on the Summer 2007 voyage and seven students are on the current voyage.

The International Studies Office supports the University's international mission by developing and coordinating activities and services designed to create and enhance a globally aware, culturally diverse education and research environment.

For information about study abroad, contact Markot at (434) 982-3012 or visit www.virginia.edu/iso.