Appalachian’s emphasis on study abroad gains continued recognition

The growing interest of students participating in study abroad at Appalachian State University has once again resulted in recognition from the International Institute of Education (IIE).

In its 2014 Open Doors report, Appalachian is ranked 4th among the top 40 master’s degree granting institutions for the total number of students studying abroad in 2012-13, the year the rankings are based.

Destinations included:

  • Europe
  • Central America/Caribbean
  • South America
  • Asia
  • Africa

The university also ranked second among the top 40 master’s degree granting institutions for the number of students participating in short-term programs for academic credit. Short term programs are those lasting one to six weeks.

A total of 942 students studied abroad in 2012-13, the year the rankings are based. This represented a 22 percent participation rate at Appalachian, a much higher rate than the national rate of 13.8 percent. These numbers and percentages rose even more during the 2013-14 year (noted at right).

Why Appalachian values study abroad

Appalachian values study abroad, also called education abroad, because it is part of the larger effort to graduate students who are globally competent. Study abroad gives students opportunities to increase their knowledge of global issues, regions and cultures; improve their intercultural skills; and foster global citizenship.

“I am very pleased with this distinction that Appalachian has received,” said Dr. Jesse Lutabingwa, associate vice chancellor for international education and development. “This achievement has come as a result of hard work by both my staff, faculty and many others on campus.”

During the last five academic years, the number of Appalachian students selecting to study abroad for academic credit has grown steadily from 680 in 2008-09 to 942 in 2012-13. Appalachian saw its study abroad totals increase by 270 students from its 2011-12 totals.

Factors leading to Appalachian’s increased study abroad

“The growth in education abroad can be attributed to many factors,” Lutabingwa explained.

He said there has been an increased interest among the students wanting to go abroad and faculty wanting to led programs abroad, greater publicity of education abroad opportunities, and phenomenal growth in the number of pre-service teachers choosing to do a portion of their student teaching abroad. Some scholarship support is also offered to make the study abroad experience more affordable to students.

In some departments and programs at Appalachian, studying abroad has become an expectation and a graduation requirement. “Our office also has worked tirelessly to expand opportunities in many different countries and through different avenues, such as short-term faculty-led, research, clinical observations, service-learning, international Alternative Spring Break and internships. All of these efforts have contributed in the increases that we have observed,” Lutabingwa said.

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