UW–Madison ranks among top 10 in study abroad participation

Nov. 12, 2012

by Kerry Hill

The University of Wisconsin-Madison continues to rank among the national leaders in the number of students studying abroad, with 2,159 students studying outside the United States for academic credit in 2010-11, according to the 2012 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange.

Photo: students at study abroad fair

Undergraduates stop at the International Academic Programs table to learn about study abroad opportunities during a Student Orientation, Advising and Registration (SOAR) campus resource fair.

Photo: Jeff Miller

UW-Madison ranked ninth among peer institutions in the latest report, published by the Institute of International Education, the nation's leading not-for-profit educational and cultural exchange organization.

The university ranked even higher in the number of students going abroad for long-term and medium-duration. UW-Madison was sixth among peer institutions for long-term (academic or calendar year) study abroad (154) and fourth for mid-length (semester) program participation (1,112).

"This is testament that UW faculty, administration and students understand the importance and value of a global education and that international experience is a key component to student development, regardless of one's major or career path," says Dan Gold, director of International Academic Programs (IAP), which offers the largest number of study abroad programs at the university.

"This is particularly impressive given today's economic climate, and the difficult financial choices students and their families have to make," Gold says.

Nationally, the number of U.S. students studying abroad in 2010-11 totaled 273,996, up from 270,604 the previous year. Last year, UW-Madison was ranked 10th, with 2,169 students participating in study abroad programs offered by several campus units or in non-UW-Madison programs for which students received credit.

The top destinations for UW-Madison students were Spain (266), United Kingdom (191), China (180), Italy (178) and France (132). The same countries topped the national list, although in a different order: United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France and China.

The majority of UW students who studied abroad in 2010-11 were seniors (1,068) and juniors (622). Their majors included social sciences (558), business (467), foreign languages (378), physical/life sciences (288) and humanities (255). Two-thirds of UW study abroad participants were female — 1,411, compared to 748 males — which reflects the national trend.

“This is testament that UW faculty, administration and students understand the importance and value of a global education and that international experience is a key component to student development, regardless of one’s major or career path.”

Dan Gold

Those who manage study abroad programs across campus are continuing efforts to increase opportunities and encourage more students to incorporate international experiences in their course of study.

"Our goal is to continue to make study abroad as affordable as possible while ensuring a wide range of offerings around the world in all durations — yearlong, semester, and short-term summer, spring break and winter intersession — that fully articulate with UW students' academic, personal and professional goals," says Gold.

The Open Doors Report also includes figures on international students at U.S. institutions.

UW-Madison hosted 4,840 international students in 2011-12 (up from 4,647 the previous year), and ranks 26th among peer institutions (down from 23rd the previous year).

"The growth in international students at UW-Madison has largely been at the undergraduate level," says Laurie Cox, assistant dean and director of International Student Services. "International students make a significant contribution to the classroom experience by sharing their ideas, experiences and cultural values. This is a big reason why so many of our students, both international and domestic, go on to become extraordinary global citizens."

The leading countries and regions of origin for international students at UW-Madison are, in order, China, South Korea, India, Malaysia and the Taiwan region.

Nationally, China is the leading country of origin for students studying in the United States, with 194,029 in 2011-12, up from 157,558 the previous year, according to the Open Doors Report. India (100,270), South Korea (72,295), Saudi Arabia (34,139) and Canada (26,821) round out the top five.