UST ranks high for study-abroad participation

UST ranks high for study-abroad participation

The Institute of International Education recently released "Open Doors 2006," its annual report about U.S. students who study abroad during their college experience. Once again the report shows that St. Thomas ranks high in the proportion of its student body that studies abroad.

The 2006 Open Doors report analyzes data from the 2004-2005 academic year, in which St. Thomas' participation rate, 66.4 percent, was third nationally among doctoral institutions. The rate is based on the number of undergraduate students who studied abroad (714) and the number of undergraduate degrees conferred (1,075).

Yeshiva University in New York City, with a participation rate of 76.7 percent, ranked first, followed by the University of Denver at 68.7 percent. Ranking behind St. Thomas in study-abroad participation rates were Wake Forest (59.9), Georgetown (58.7) and the University of Notre Dame (57.9).

Last year, St. Thomas ranked first but had a lower study-abroad participation rate (61 percent). Numbers of undergraduates studying abroad show a steady increase: in 2002-2002, St. Thomas sent 644 students abroad; in 2002-2003, 662 did so; in the 2004-2005 academic year, 714 ventured outside the country's borders in academic pursuits.

Study-abroad participation rates also were strong at other Minnesota colleges and universities. Top-20 master's institutions included Hamline University, second (79.5 percent), and Bethel University, 12th (45.3 percent). Earning top participation rates at colleges awarding bachelor's degrees were: St. Olaf College, sixth (92.2 percent), and Concordia College-Moorhead, 14th (79.1 percent).

The state of Minnesota ranked seventh in the number of college students who traveled abroad to study, with almost 8,200 studying outside the United States. Nationally, a record 205,983 students – 8 percent more than the previous year – studied abroad in 2004-2005. Numbers of U.S. students studying abroad have increased 144 percent in the last decade, according to the institute.

Top destinations
Open Doors 2006 listed the 20 most-popular destinations for study abroad by U.S. students: United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France, Australia, Mexico, Germany, China, Ireland, Costa Rica, Japan, Austria, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Greece, Chile, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil and India. Students are studying more often in nontraditional destinations and increasingly in non-English-speaking countries.

St. Thomas students appear to follow national trends in their choice of study-abroad destinations, with England, Italy and Spain topping the list in 2004-2005. Nontraditional destinations were popular, too, with St. Thomas students traveling to Bangladesh, India and Morocco.

UST's London Business Semester, enrolling some 50 students each fall, helps keep England at the top of the list; many students in short-term programs also choose studies in England. As for Italy, St. Thomas offers several programs there, including sponsored and co-sponsored programs, and yearlong, semester or short-term programs. The largest is UST's Catholic Studies Program, in which students take Italian language and Catholic studies courses at the Dominican Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquin as in Rome and live at St. Thomas ' Bernardi Campus.

Foreign student enrollment appears to hold 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.

Skidding enrollment of international students in U.S. programs appears to have slowed for the first time since the advent of student visa restrictions enacted in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

New international enrollment (foreign students enrolling at U.S. institutions for the first time in fall 2005) increased 8 percent over the previous year, with the total enrollment of international students holding steady at nearly 565,000. That number had shown steady decreases after a peak of more than 586,000 in 2002.

St. Thomas ranks fourth in Minnesota for its number of foreign students, 343. By comparison, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities enrolls 3,384 foreign students; St. Cloud State University, 958, and Minnesota State University, Mankato, 457. Minnesota ranked 19th in the nation for its total number of foreign students, with the largest numbers hailing from China, India, Nepal, Republic of Korea and Japan.

Encouraging the international experience
Encouraging the international experience are study-abroad alumni, many of whom have put their money where their mouths are. The 2005 Senior Class Gift designated several years' worth of two $1,000 January Term scholarships for seniors wanting a first-time study-abroad experience. Patrick Tenney '93, established the Garhart-Tenney Scholarship for study abroad for undergraduate business or economics majors. Tenney, who majored in finance and economics, studied abroad for a semester in Denmark and completed an internship in Australia.

“The continued national ranking for St. Thomas is reflective of the importance our students and faculty put on the value of an international experience," said Ann Hubbard, UST's associate director of international education. "Prospective students as well are much more likely now than we saw a decade ago in making inquiries about the study-abroad programs that are available to St. Thomas students. We are proud of the wide range of programs we offer – both in terms of programs length as well as destination and academic focus. St. Thomas students literally have the world before them as a possibility."   

More about the "Open Doors" report
To learn more about the Open Doors 2006 report and its data, go to or order the full 100-page report for $49.95 from IIE Books at