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Wofford ranks among leaders in nation for study abroad

College ranks fourth among top 40 baccalaureate institutions
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2012-11-20

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College again is among the leaders nationally in undergraduate participation in study abroad programs, according to the 2012 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released this week. A ranking of fourth among the nation’s top 40 baccalaureate institutions again confirms the college’s commitment to its students becoming global citizens.

  Wofford, which consistently has ranked in the top 10 for more than 15 years, is the only South Carolina institution included on any of the report’s three lists for percentage of undergraduate participation in study abroad programs – Top 40 Doctoral Institutions, Top 40 Master’s Institutions, and Top 40 Baccalaureate Institutions. The rankings are based on the number of students studying abroad and the number of degrees conferred, resulting in the estimated ratio of student participation in study abroad programs for credit.

In 2010-2011, the year on which the report is based, Wofford had 384 students participate in study abroad programs. In the past five years, more than 1,700 Wofford students have studied abroad in 70 countries on seven continents.

The Open Doors report is published annually by the Institute of International Education with funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The report showed an increase of 1 percent in the number of American students who studied abroad for academic credit, an all-time high. “Study abroad by American students has more than tripled over the past two decades, and Open Doors reported a steady rise in U.S. study abroad over several decades,” the report says. Wofford saw a 1.9 percent increase in study abroad participation from 2009-10 to 2010-11.

The United Kingdom remains the leading destination for American students, followed by Italy, Spain, France and China. There were “significant increases” in the number of Americans studying in several “non-traditional destinations outside Europe: Brazil, China, Costa Rica, India, and South Korea. Twenty-three percent of Wofford students earned credit by studying in Latin America, beating the national average by 8 percent.

Wofford’s Office of International Programs encourages study abroad in non-traditional locations, says Amy Lancaster, assistant dean of international programs and academic administration. “We work with students one-on-one to find the program and location that most appropriately suits their goals. In addition to more traditional Western European locations, we are regularly sending students to less commonly traveled locations,” she says. “This year, students will spend a semester or longer in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands Antilles, Senegal, Serbia, South Africa and Vietnam. This is exciting as we continue to see a higher level of student engagement among students who have studied in non-traditional destinations, according to our NSSE (National Study of Student Engagement) research.”

In addition, 46 percent of Wofford faculty has participated in study abroad through the Milliken Faculty Seminars Abroad – giving them a taste of the student experience. The program began in 2009, when 13 faculty and staff members went to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since then faculty groups have traveled to Shanghai, China; Granada, Spain, and Rabat, Morocco and Bahia, Brazil. January 2013 will see a group of 10 faculty and staff studying in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders,” Ann Stock, assistant U.S. secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, says of the report’s findings. “International education creates strong, lasting relationships between the U.S. and emerging leaders worldwide. Students return home with new perspectives and a global skill set that will allow them to build more prosperous, stable societies.”

Dr. David S. Wood, Wofford academic dean and senior vice president, notes that the college is committed to preparing its students to engage the world. “Our faculty and staff have committed us to meeting the challenge of preparing our students for an increasingly complex and globally connected world, and that commitment is continuously reflected in our rankings in the Open Doors study. Our faculty members have innovative and bold approaches to enhancing the educational experience here at Wofford, and our students are rising to the task of engaging the world. We can see it by these numbers, and by their success in these programs.”

Wofford encourages and assists students wishing to study abroad through scholarships and financial aid packages.

“We are thrilled to see the strong participation of our language majors,” says Dr. Ana Maria Wiseman, dean of international programs. A quarter of Wofford’s students who studied abroad did so in a foreign language, exceeding the national average by 19 percent. “This year, we are particularly proud that Rachel Woodlee, a Chinese and business economics major who studied and worked abroad in China, India, France, Germany and Peru, was selected as a Rhodes Scholar,” she adds.

For more on Wofford’s Study Abroad program, go to http://www.wofford.edu/internationalprograms/.

For more about the Open Doors 2012 report, go to:
http://www.iie.org/Research-and-Publications/Open-Doors