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Appalachian ranked third nationally for its study abroad programs

BOONE—Appalachian State University is ranked third nationally among comprehensive master’s level institutions for the total number of students who studied abroad for credit during the 2010-11 academic year, according to the 2012 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released Nov. 12. Appalachian also is ranked third for the number of students who studied abroad for credit on short-term, faculty-led programs during the same period.

The top five schools in the master’s category are Elon University, James Madison University, Appalachian, Villanova University and Arcadia University.

“We are very pleased with these rankings which reflect Appalachian’s collective efforts to provide more global learning opportunities abroad for students,” said Dr. Jesse Lutabingwa, associate vice chancellor for international education and development.

During the 2010-11 academic year, a total of 886 students studied abroad for academic credit in various programs. This number is the largest ever at Appalachian and demonstrates the university’s consistent and persistent efforts to send students abroad, Lutabingwa said. This represents a 26 percent participation rate at Appalachian.

Since 2006-07, Appalachian has embarked on an effort to diversify education abroad options available to its students by developing new opportunities in non-traditional geographical locations. Consequently, during the 2010-11 academic year for which the 2012 Open Doors Report is based, Appalachian expanded opportunities in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Thailand and Vietnam.

Current education abroad data indicate that an increasing number of Appalachian students choose to study in many of these non-traditional geographical locations. While the national data show that the largest number of U.S. students select to study in Europe (United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and France), at Appalachian, Europe accounts only for about 38 percent with most of the students (59 percent) selecting to study in countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa during the 2010-11 academic year.

“Our goal has been to open up other parts of the world and to diversify students’ educational abroad opportunities and experiences,” said Lutabingwa.

Even though study abroad by American students has more than tripled over the past two decades, it still represents a small proportion of total enrollment in U.S. higher education. This is true for Appalachian, as well. According to the 2012 Open Doors Report, about 14 percent of American students receiving bachelor’s degrees this past year have studied abroad at some point during their undergraduate programs, while only 1 percent of U.S. students are studying abroad during a single academic year (273,996 out of the more than 20 million students enrolled in U.S. higher education).

“I hope the university’s focus in international education and experiences through its Global Learning Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) will help us significantly increase the number of our students who are selecting to study abroad as part of their undergraduate education,” Lutabingwa said. In the coming years, the university will work hard to address financial, early knowledge of options available, flexibility in academic programs, and other barriers that prevent many students from participating in education abroad experience.