UW–Madison rises in Open Doors rankings for study abroad participation, international students

As International Education Week begins, the University of Wisconsin–Madison has additional cause for celebration with the release of the 2021 Open Doors Report. The report lists UW–Madison as #4 among all U.S. universities for study abroad participation and #19 for number of international students. Both rankings represent increases in the report rankings, which are published annually by Institute of International Education in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

UW–Madison was listed as #15 in the 2020 Open Doors Report for study abroad. For 2019–2020, 1,602 UW–Madison students were listed as studying abroad. This number falls from the 2018–2019 total of 2,547 participants due to the impact of travel restrictions implemented with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participant numbers include all U.S. Citizen/Permanent Resident degree-seeking student credit-bearing activity outside of the U.S.

“We are very proud of the #4 ranking, which demonstrates UW–Madison’s excellence in the field, and the importance of international experiences as an integral part of learning for our students,” said Dan Gold, director of International Academic Programs. “UW–Madison’s unique support of semester and year-long programs among our peers, and the tremendous growth potential such experiences provide our students, is a core reason behind the strong showing.”

The university continues to draw strong interest from international students. UW–Madison was home to 7,139 international students during the 2020–2021 academic year. During the previous year 7,217 students from around the world were enrolled at the university. Both counts include students enrolled on campus and recent graduates participating in OPT (Optional Practical Training) to gain work experience in their field of study while in the United States.

“As always I am heartened to see UW–Madison perform well among peer institutions,” said Guido Podestá, vice provost and dean of the International Division. “What is even more exciting for the university are the indications of strong interest in global engagement, both domestically and internationally. We continue to carefully re-open study abroad and domestic study away programs around the world, and have record enrollment for spring programs. We also continue to attract a robust and diverse international student body, giving ample opportunity for academic and cultural exchange. These are just a few of the indicators that create a positive outlook for global engagement.”

Podestá also emphasized that the university is approaching re-engagement with caution so as to keep students safe while conditions around the world continue to change. Student health and safety remains the top priority for the university, and programs continue to be reviewed thoroughly on a case-by-case basis before re-opening to students.

The Open Doors Report is released in conjunction with International Education Week, a joint initiative of the Departments of State and Education, which highlights the benefits of international engagement. UW–Madison is celebrating the week from November 15–19. This year’s keynote event on Nov. 15 features Aaron Williams, former Peace Corps director, and a discussion and release of his newly published memoir, “A Life Unimagined.” View a full list of events planned for the week at iew.international.wisc.edu.