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Three Times as Many USG Students Study Abroad Now as in 1998

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USG Research Shows More Study-Abroad Students Graduate Within Six Years

Atlanta — November 17, 2008

Over the past decade, the University System of Georgia (USG) has increased threefold the number of its students studying abroad. Today, as the United States begins observing International Education Week and the Institute for International Education (IIE) releases the latest national data on study-abroad participation in its “Open Doors 2008” report, the USG announced that it has reached a milestone, having sent more than 6,000 students overseas to study last year.

System officials also reported on new research that shows University System of Georgia (USG) students who study overseas during their college years are much more likely to graduate within six years than their counterparts who remain in the United States.

“The high level of student participation in study abroad reflects the importance of the regents’ Strategic Plan in preparing Georgia students for the global economy of the 21st century,” said Dr. Susan Herbst, chief academic officer and executive vice chancellor for the University System.

The Board of Regents has made providing study-abroad opportunities for its students a priority for more than a decade. The regents’ 2007 Strategic Plan calls for 25 percent of the USG’s baccalaureate-degree recipients to have studied abroad by 2012. Currently, 21 percent meet these criteria.

During the 2007-08 academic year, a total of 6,076 students from the System’s 35 colleges and universities studied outside the United States, as compared to the 1,850 students who studied abroad during 1997-98.

“I am delighted that our students are exploring the global classroom in such record-setting numbers,” said Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. “Not simply traveling, but living and learning in other countries will give them tremendous skills and advantages in meeting the challenges of a complex world.”

While the University of Georgia (which ranks fifth among doctoral institutions in the new “Open Doors” report) and Georgia Tech account for the vast majority of USG students who study abroad, having sent 2,086 and 1,001 students overseas respectively during the 2007-08 academic year, a handful of other institutions have experienced remarkable gains in the number of students choosing to study outside the United States over the last five years. Clayton State University went from 11 students in 2003-04 to 48 students in 2007-08, an increase of 336 percent; Georgia Southern University boosted its numbers during the same period from 129 to 361, a 191 percent increase; while Georgia College & State University experienced a 169 percent increase, going from 106 to 285 students. To view the study-abroad enrollments at each institution in the USG over a five-year period, go to http://www.usg.edu/oie/facstaff/policies/stats_sa/enrollments_by_inst.pdf.

The USG’s Office of International Education has been analyzing the academic success and intellectual growth of college students who study abroad under a project called Georgia Learning Outcomes of Students Studying Abroad Research Initiative (GLOSSARI). Since 2000, GLOSSARI has tracked the academic performance and cognitive assessment of more than 31,000 Georgia students who have studied overseas.

Results released today show that Georgia students who study overseas have a six-year graduation rate of 89 percent – more than 50 percent higher than the University System average. The most recent USG six-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time freshmen seeking bachelor’s degrees is 58 percent. This dramatic difference in academic achievement suggests that study abroad helps students focus on their academic goals and makes them more motivated to complete their degrees.

“The personal value of study abroad has been widely acknowledged, but these results document a state and societal benefit of improved efficiency and productivity for higher education,” said Dr. Richard Sutton, assistant vice chancellor for international programs. “Studying abroad has a major impact on student learning, academic achievement and career success. The USG is committed to making these opportunities accessible and affordable for every Georgia student.”

The research project also showed that students who go abroad for longer periods of time generally have higher graduation rates. For example, those who spend between eight and 12 weeks overseas have a graduation rate of 93 percent, while those who go for less than four weeks have an 83 percent rate. Likewise there is some variation in graduation rates based on the region of the world in which students study, and whether they go abroad during the summer (91 percent) or for another academic semester (80 percent).

Many factors can affect graduation rates, such as previous academic preparation and SAT scores. Supported by a major grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the GLOSSARI project is analyzing a variety of variables to determine the statistical significance of study abroad within that mix. The project also looks at specific features of study-abroad programs themselves – such as program length and location – to determine the impact of program design on academic success.

To learn about the University System’s study-abroad programs and to explore the resources available to students interested in building knowledge about the rest of the world and about other cultures, traveling the world, or learning a foreign language, visit http://www.usg.edu/oie/study_abroad/.

For more information on International Education Week, go to http://iew.state.gov/. The Institute for International Education’s “Open Doors 2008” report, released today, is available at http://www.opendoors.iienetwork.org/.

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