Dr. Hill and students

Wofford ranks among leaders in nation for study abroad

College ranks second among top 40 baccalaureate institutions

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Students Jennifer Vickers and Taylor Stukes are shown here during their time spent studying in Copenhagen, Denmark. Many students choose to study abroad during their four years at Wofford, and Open Doors ranked Wofford 2nd nationally in participation in studies abroad among liberal arts college.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College is second among the nation’s top 40 baccalaureate institutions for undergraduate students studying abroad for credit, according to the 2011 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released this week, confirming 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 – Top 40 doctorate 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, to get the estimated ratio of student participation in study abroad programs for credit. 

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 is based on the academic year 2009-10. 

“Study abroad by students enrolled in U.S. higher education has more than tripled over the past two decades,” the report says. “The increase shown in this year’s Open Doors report (270,604 in 2009-10 compared to 260,327 the previous year) returns to the steady rise in study abroad numbers each year since the data has been tracked, with the exception of 2008-09, when world economic conditions had caused a slight dip.” 

Wofford experienced a 20 percent increase in students studying abroad during that timeframe. 

While the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France and China remained the top host destinations, the report found notable increases in U.S. students going to study in many of the less traditional destinations. Fifteen of the top 25 destinations were outside of Western Europe and 19 were countries where English is not the primary language. 

“We have seen 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,” says Dr. Ana Maria Wiseman, dean of international programs. “We are excited about the trends that indicate that our students are selecting quality programs that provide high-impact experiences as identified by NSSE, such as direct enrollment options, studying in a foreign language, service-learning and guided research in less commonly selected destinations.

Wofford students participating in non-traditional programs in 2009-10, Wiseman says, opted for a semester in Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Japan, Jordan, Madagascar, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Panama, and Russia. “Furthermore, our students participated in short-term programs in the Bahamas, Belize, Chile, China, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Greece, India, Israel, Jordan, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Peru, South Africa, Namibia, and Zambia during January 2010.”

Since 2008, more than 1,000 Wofford students have studied abroad in 64 countries on all seven continents.

Dr. David S. Wood, dean of the college, notes that Wofford is committed to preparing its students to engage the world. “We continue to face an enormous and important challenge in preparing our nation’s future leaders for a globally connected, competitive and interdependent world,” he says. “Our faculty and staff, together with the outstanding leadership of Dr. Ana Maria Wiseman, have committed us to meeting that challenge, 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 continue to be successful in our study abroad participation partly because of our intensive ongoing orientation program that includes thorough advising, various workshops and other events,” says Amy Lancaster, assistant dean for academic administration and international programs. “We encourage students to set intercultural, linguistic, academic, and other personal goals to maximize their study abroad experience. We also stress reflection as part of the process, so students are regularly considering what they are learning while working toward a common goal of global citizenship.”

In addition, Wofford faculty is encouraged to study abroad through the Milliken Faculty Seminars Abroad. The program began in 2009, when 13 faculty and staff members went to Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2010, another 19 traveled to Shanghai, China; and in 2011, still another group traveled to Granada, Spain, and Rabat, Morocco. In January 2012, a group will travel to Bahia, Brazil.