LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas remains one of the nation’s top academic institutions in terms of student engagement in study abroad activities, according to the latest Open Doors report released earlier this month by the Institute of International Education, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs.
Among public doctoral institutions, KU now ranks 18th in the percentage of undergraduate students who participate in study abroad prior to graduation, with a 28.5 percent participation rate. Additionally, among all of the 1,412 reporting institutions, KU ranks 45th in the total number of students studying abroad. The rankings are based on participant data from the 2015-16 academic year, when 1,403 KU undergraduate and graduate students participated in credit-bearing international activities, including overseas study, internship/practicum, research and service programs.
Not included in the Open Doors data cited above are KU students who are not U.S. citizens as well as those who go abroad for noncredit activities, such as academic conferences, athletic competitions and performances. When credit and noncredit international activities are combined and international, degree-seeking students at KU are included in the data, a total of 1,568 KU students traveled internationally as part of their academic program.
Nationally 325,339 U.S. students received credit during the 2015-16 academic year for studying abroad, an increase of 3.8 percent from the prior year. Although the total number is at an all-time high, it is still the case that only approximately 10 percent of all U.S. undergraduate students (including community college students) will study abroad before they graduate. In contrast, more than 1 in 4 KU undergraduate students study abroad prior to graduation.
Angela Perryman, director of the Office of Study Abroad, said the new data is a strong indication that KU’s strategic efforts to expand access to study abroad are yielding results.
“The campus community is working collaboratively to ensure that all students, regardless of academic discipline, demographics or socioeconomic indicators, can incorporate an international academic experience into their KU degree. The academic departments are developing new international partnerships and short-term study abroad programs; the admissions and advising communities are speaking with students early and often about study abroad opportunities at KU; and alumni and external organizations are investing in scholarship support for international education – all to the benefit of our students and our community.”
Study abroad provides students with the opportunity to take part in unique courses, research and internship experiences; aids in the development of intercultural communication competencies and foreign language fluency; encourages perspective taking, engaging with difference, and leading across cultures; and supports students in acquiring the soft skills needed to thrive in today’s workforce.
The Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange is published annually by the Institute of International Education with support from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The 2017 report data for U.S. students studying abroad reflect the 2015-16 academic year.
Photo: Gabriel O'Conner went to Suriname with a study abroad class in this 2016 photo. Credit: KU Marketing Communications.