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Dec. 1, 2003

Study Abroad

A recent report on college students studying abroad suggests that a weak economy and post 9/11 concerns have done little to prevent students from leaving the U.S. to supplement their college experience. The latest study abroad numbers - for the 2001-2002 school year - show a 4.4% increase from the previous year.

The numbers come from Open Doors 2003, the annual report on international education published by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with funding from the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. See for a complete report.

At Calvin College the trends mirror those of colleges across the country. In fact, Calvin is among the national leaders in terms of students who study abroad.

In its category - master's level institutions - Calvin ranks fifth among all U.S. universities and colleges with a 50.9% participation rate in study abroad programs. When ranked according to sheer numbers Calvin still ranks high - 6th in the country with 460 students studying abroad in 2001-2002.

Study abroad is an important component of a Calvin education. The school's off-campus programs effort allows Calvin students to travel to 10 destinations for semester-long study programs, including two in Honduras as well as programs in Britain, China, France, Ghana, Hungary and Spain. Calvin also has semester-long U.S. programs in New Mexico and Washington, D.C. For students who need a program focus not available in Calvin's own programs, the off-campus programs office helps them find one that suits their needs.

Across the country the number of students going to study in less traditional destinations continues to grow. Among the countries with the most dramatic increases were China and Japan.

Says Calvin's Ellen Monsma, director of off-campus programs: "Off-campus programs broaden students' horizons significantly. Not only do they study academic courses, they also learn how to live in new and sometimes very different cultures. That demands a lot of flexibility and self-reliance. Returning to campus, students generally have a clearer idea of who they are. And they have a new perspective both on the world and on their Christian calling."

More and more Calvin students are taking advantage of the chance to study abroad in Calvin sponsored programs. Almost 50% of Calvin's Class of 2003 studied abroad at some point during their Calvin career. For about two-thirds of those students their study abroad came during Calvin's three-week January term called Interim. About one-third of the students who study abroad do so for an entire semester.

Open Doors 2003 indicates that most students continue to study abroad for shorter sojourns (many for less than eight weeks), with more than 50% of U.S. undergraduates and masters degree students electing summer, January term, internships and other short-term programs instead of academic year or semester programs.

The Open Doors 2003 report is published by the Institute of International Education, the leading not-for-profit educational and cultural exchange organization in the United States. IIE has conducted the annual statistical survey of the foreign students in the United States since 1949, and has been collecting study abroad figures since 1986. A grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs underwrites the research and report. In addition to study abroad, separate surveys are conducted to generate statistics on foreign scholars, and foreign students enrolled in pre-academic Intensive English Programs.

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Contact Phil de Haan
616-526-6475 (v)
616-526-7069 (f)