by Masarah Van Eyck
Record numbers of University of Wisconsin-Madison students are earning some of their academic credit abroad, with a participation rate that far exceeds the national average. What is more, they are increasingly choosing to study in previously non-traditional destinations such as China and India.
According to the Open Doors report, released Monday by the Institute of International Education (IIE) , UW-Madison ranks in the top five for student participation in year-long and mid-length programs, placing third and fourth respectively among all U.S. research institutions for the 2007-2008 academic year. UW-Madison ranks sixth for overall study abroad participation, up three spots from the previous year, with a total of 2,216 participants. UW-Madison students received credit for study in 74 countries around the world, compared to 60 in 2006-2007.
In all, 20 percent more UW-Madison students went abroad in 2007-2008. Nationally, the number of Americans studying abroad increased by 8.5 percent.
“We are especially encouraged to be sending so many students on mid- and year-long study abroad programs,” says Professor Robert Howell, director of International Academic Programs, the largest and central study abroad office on campus. “While short-term programs offer valuable, accessible international opportunities, we want to continue to emphasize longer experiences abroad whenever possible.”
Consistent with national trends, European countries dominate the top five most popular destinations for UW-Madison students. Third on UW-Madison’s list, however, is China, up two spots from the previous year. China is in fifth place nationwide for desired destination.
“I’m thrilled to see that our students recognize how important it is to understand emerging global powers like China,” says Gilles Bousquet, dean of the Division of International Studies. “We hope to make it our students’ most popular destination in the next few years.”
UW-Madison has also remained in the top 20 of research universities for numbers of international students enrolled, hosting 3,910 students from more than 105 countries in 2007-2008.
“UW-Madison has a long-standing tradition of welcoming international students from around the world, a tradition which began as early as 1903,” says Laurie Cox, director of International Student Services. “We are delighted to continue to welcome so many bright and talented international students to UW-Madison and to Wisconsin.”