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WKU nationally ranked in Open Doors study abroad report for 5th consecutive year

For the fifth year in a row, WKU is nationally ranked in the Institute for International Education’s (IIE) U.S. study abroad rankings, released in the November 2016 Open Doors Report.

For the second consecutive year, WKU placed in the top 20 in the nation among master’s institutions for its total number of study abroad students. Ranked 20th, WKU is the only public institution in Kentucky to appear in the study abroad rankings. WKU is also ranked 13th in the nation among master’s institutions for short-term study abroad program participation.

Open Doors is an annual report of U.S. students studying abroad for academic credit as well as international students and scholars studying or teaching in the U.S. The survey is conducted by IIE with grant funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The most recent IIE study abroad rankings are based on statistics for the 2014-2015 academic year, when a total of 533 WKU students (not including international and non-degree students) participated in education abroad programs. The total represents students who participated in credit-bearing education abroad opportunities and excludes Gatton Academy, international and non-degree seeking students who studied abroad as is required by Open Doors reporting standards. Education abroad participation among WKU students increased 33.9 percent from 2010-2011 to 2014-2015, a rate of growth almost three times the national rate of 12.5 percent.

“The fact that WKU is ranked nationally in study abroad for the second year in a row is a testament to the institution’s commitment to comprehensive internationalization and prioritizing education abroad through creating strategic partnerships and investing in both faculty development and student scholarships,” said Dr. Craig T. Cobane, Chief International Officer.

Faculty-led study abroad programs (FLSAs) continue to be the preferred option for WKU students, increasing by 30 over the previous year. In addition to providing meaningful educational experiences, FLSAs foster close connections among faculty, students, and—in many cases—overseas partner institutions and organizations. WKU benefits from many close partnerships with study abroad organizations, which offer students a variety of program options to fit their curricular needs. Close partners include two consortia organizations housed on WKU’s Bowling Green campus: the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CCSA) and the Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS). Student participation in CCSA programs increased by 16 over the previous year and KIIS recruited an additional four WKU students. A number of WKU faculty members teach on CCSA or KIIS programs every year.

A variety of internal scholarships are available to WKU students to assist with the additional costs associated with studying overseas, and students can also apply institutional aid. The Office of Study Abroad & Global Learning awards over $185,000 annually through the World Topper Scholarship and an additional $50,000 through the Diversity Abroad Grant, a scholarship designed to increase access to study abroad opportunities for underrepresented students with high financial need.

Many WKU departments and colleges also offer study abroad scholarships. Additionally, many WKU students have successfully applied for the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, a nationally competitive study abroad scholarship program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State that competitively awards Pell Grant recipients up to $5,000 toward a study abroad experience of four weeks or more. Students are encouraged to seek advising for this and other national awards through the Office of Scholar Development.

The Open Doors report is traditionally released on the first day of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education’s International Education Week. Numerous activities are happening on WKU’s campus around this theme. More information can be found at https://www.wku.edu/oip/iew/iew2016.php

SAGL and the Office of International Programs plan to release their 2015-2016 Annual Report in spring 2017 to update the campus community on recent international education trends at WKU.

Contact: Caryn Lindsay, (270) 745-5334

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