For the second consecutive year, St. Thomas has ranked No. 1 among U.S. master’s institutions in the number of its students who study abroad. Nearly half of St. Thomas undergraduates will have participated in a study-abroad experience by the time they graduate.
The Institute of International Education’s 2001 “Open Doors,” an annual report on international education, reports study-abroad enrollments nationally have increased 11 percent in the past year. This increase follows three previous years of double-digit increases.
This year’s “Open Doors” report lists the top 20 study-abroad U.S. colleges and universities in four categories: research institutions, doctoral institutions, master’s institutions and bachelor’s institutions. St. Thomas, with 725 students who studied abroad in 1999-2000, was ranked first in the master’s institutions category, followed by James Madison University with712 students, and Elon College of North Carolina with 499 students.
St. Thomas was the only Minnesota school listed in the top 20 among master’s institutions. However, Minnesota schools continue to show a strong presence in national numbers of study-abroad students. The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities ranked 15th among research institutions with 1,058 students. Six Minnesota private colleges were ranked in the top 20 in the bachelor’s category: the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University combined for first with 617 students; St. Olaf College was second with 558 students; Carleton College, sixth, with 384 students; Gustavus Adolphus College, seventh, with 372 students; and Concordia College, Moorhead, 13th, with 328 students.
The rankings announced yesterday were based on the number of students who studied abroad during the 1999-2000 school year. While St. Thomas sent 725 students abroad that year, it sent 751 students in 2000-2001, and is on track to send a similar number abroad this year. (Note that “Open Doors 2001” statistics are from 1999-2000 when St. Thomas was still categorized as a master’s institution. In September 2000, its Carnegie category was changed to doctoral institution, and next year’s data will reflect that change.)
Between the academic years of 1995-1996 and 1999-2000, the number of St. Thomas students studying abroad increased 77 percent. Nationally during that time span, the number increased 61 percent.
“The dramatic increase in study abroad is very good news for our nation and shows that the next generation of leaders will have a greater understanding of the world around us,” said Allan Goodman, president and CEO of the Institute of Internati0nal Education.
Ann Hubbard, associate director of international education at St. Thomas, reports that interest among students for studying abroad in spring 2002 has not been dampened by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. One hundred fourteen St. Thomas students have been approved to study abroad for spring 2002, up from 92 in spring 2001—an increase of 24 percent. “We are heartened, says Hubbard, “by the enthusiasm among students for continuing to pursue their interests in international experiences. This is definitely a time when our world needs more international understanding, not less.”
One of the major trends in study abroad reported in this year’s data is a marked shift toward shorter (less than eight weeks) study-abroad sojourns, with close to half of undergraduate and master’s students electing summer, January Term, internships or other, shorter programs instead of academic year or semester programs. Most American students (90 percent) who studied abroad did so for one semester or less.
St. Thomas students are part of this trend: of the 725 students who studied abroad in 1999-2000, all but 17 studied abroad for one semester or less. Four hundred fifty-one of them studied abroad during January Term or summer.
Other trends in study abroad reported in this year’s survey include increases among students studying in the business and technical fields, participating in internships and work-abroad programs, and choosing to go to more-diverse destinations.
St. Thomas students have more study-abroad choices than ever. The university co-sponsors more than 90 programs that students can select for semester or yearlong study. The university also offers 54 short-term programs, up from 38 programs two years ago.
Europe remains the top destination for St. Thomas’ study-abroad students; about six of every 10 travel there. However, more and more are choosing nontraditional destinations. The university has responded to that interest by offering new programs in countries such as Cuba, Nicaragua and the Ukraine. There also has been an increase in U.S.-based short-term programs in locations such as New York, Hawaii and southwestern United States.
Here is an alphabetical list of the countries visited by St. Thomas students last year: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Northern Ireland, People’s Republic of China, Russia, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Tanzania, and Ukraine.
Patricia Harrison, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, said, “The State Department is encouraged by the substantial increase in the number of U.S. students studying abroad. The trends documented in the ‘Open Doors 20
01’ data demonstrate that students and institutions realize the need to better understand the world beyond our borders.”