Study-abroad participation remains strong at St. Thomas

Study-abroad participation remains strong at St. Thomas

The Institute of International Education’s “Open Doors Report 2007” recently released its annual report about U.S. students who study abroad during college. It shows that the University of St. Thomas remains among the leading American institutions for undergraduate students who study abroad.

The Open Doors Report 2007 analyzes data from the 2005-2006 academic year, in which St. Thomas’ participation rate, 60.5 percent, was fifth nationally among doctoral institutions. The rate is based on the number of undergraduate students who participated in study-abroad programs (659) and the number of undergraduate degrees conferred (1,089).

These rankings mark the fourth year that St. Thomas has been ranked as a “doctoral/research” institution, a category that typically includes much larger schools. Ranked first in this category was Yeshiva University (New York), followed by the University of Denver, Dartmouth University and Wake Forest University. Just behind St. Thomas were the University of Notre Dame, Georgetown University, American University and Duke University.

These numbers show a slight decrease from St. Thomas’ previous academic year’s rankings in 2004-2005, in which St. Thomas ranked third, with 786 students who studied abroad (714 undergraduate); however, Ann Hubbard, associate director of the International Education Center, is not worried about the minor drop. “St. Thomas has consistently placed among the top institutions for the percentage of its undergraduates who study abroad. The university encourages and supports students to take advantage of the international opportunities which they came here to pursue.”

Study-abroad participation rates also were strong at other Minnesota colleges and universities. Top-20 master’s institutions included Hamline University, third (73 percent); Bethel University, 16th (43.4 percent); and Augsburg College, 29th (33.9 percent). Earning top participation rates at colleges awarding bachelor’s degrees were: St. Olaf College, sixth (88.4 percent); Concordia College-Moorhead, 19th (78.4 percent); Macalester College, 28th (69.5 percent); Gustavus Adolphus College, 29th (69.1 percent); Carleton College, 30th (67.2 percent); and the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University, 40th (60.9 percent).

In 2005-2006, Minnesota sent 8,614 students outside of its borders, up from 8,182 in 2004-2005. Nationally, study-abroad participation was up 8.5 percent, with 223,534 studying internationally in 2005-2006.

Top destinations
Open Doors Report 2007 listed the top 20 most popular destinations for study abroad: United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France, Australia, Mexico, China, Germany, Costa Rica, Ireland, Japan, Greece, Argentina, Czech Republic, Austria, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil and Equador. Non-English-speaking countries experienced the largest increases in participation. Argentina had the steepest spike (42.3 percent), followed by China (38.2 percent), Greece (32 percent) and Equador (26.9 percent).

St. Thomas students’ choices in destinations appear to mirror those of students nationwide, with the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain topping the list in 2005-2006. They also demonstrated a healthy interest in nontraditional destinations, with off-the beaten-path countries like Samoa and Tanzania represented.

The International Education Center works hard to keep students interested in both popular and lesser-known opportunities. Hubbard explains, “We have a supportive faculty and a strong program that helps students prepare for all aspects of the study-abroad experience. UST students have continually broadened their destination choices; in the past year they visited countries such as India, Vietnam, Uganda and Korea.”

The London Business Semester, sponsored by the Opus College of Business, enrolls about 50 students each fall and helps keep the United Kingdom at the top of St. Thomas’ list. Students in this program attend classes in the heart of London at the University of London Union. They visit sites such as the Bank of England, the Stock Exchange, Lloyd's of London and the Houses of Parliament. In addition, they may take “Friday Excursions,” academic field trips that have included Stonehenge, Bath and Oxford.

The other large St. Thomas faculty-led semester program is the Catholic Studies Program in Rome, in which students take Italian language and Catholic studies courses at the Dominican Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas and live at St. Thomas’ Bernardi Campus.

Foreign student enrollment holds steady
Since 1949 the Institute of International Education also has conducted an annual statistical survey of international students in the United States, and with the support of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs since the early 1970s.

Open Doors Report 2007 reports more recent results for rankings of international students studying in the United States. With 9,048 international students studying in Minnesota in the 2006-2007 academic year, Minnesota ranked 19th in the nation, same as last year, for its total number of foreign students. This indicates a 3.9 percent increase over the previous academic year, when 8,709 international students chose to study in Minnesota. In comparison, the international student rate increased 3.2 percent nationally, with 582,984 foreign students studying in the U.S.

Nationally, 3.9 percent of all students studying in the U.S. come from outside the 50 states.

Although St. Thomas does not rank on Open Doors’ national lists for international student enrollment, it ranks fourth in Minnesota and was the top private institution, based on number of students, with 331 students in 2006-
2007. The University of Minnesota ranked first (3,701), followed by St. Cloud State University (1,084) and Minnesota State University– Mankato (535).

The total number of international students at St. Thomas appears to have remained steady (345 in fall 2005, 334 in fall 2006 and 353 in fall 2007); however, The Office of International Admissions at St. Thomas reports a small but significant increase in undergraduate international students over the past three academic years. In fall 2005, 45 international students enrolled as undergraduates at St. Thomas; in 2006, 56 students enrolled; and in fall 2007, the number jumped to 83 students, a 32 percent increase. The top countries of origin for all international students at St. Thomas in fall 2006 and fall 2007 were, in order, India, Nepal and China.

More about the Open Doors report
To learn more about the Open Doors Report 2007 and its data, go here, or order the full report for $59.95 from IIE Books.