SOURCE: The Scholar Ship

November 13, 2007 16:47 ET

Number of U.S. Students That Study Abroad Hits Record High of 223,534 for 2005/2006

More Students Seek Semester Abroad Programs With Tangible Benefits Such as Increased Employability, Intercultural Immersion, etc.

BALTIMORE, MD--(Marketwire - November 13, 2007) - Over the last decade, the number of U.S. college students who have chosen to study abroad has increased 150 percent. The latest figures, released today, for the 2005/2006 academic year show that nearly 223,534 American students studied abroad, an increase of 8.5% from the previous year. "These increased numbers reflect a growing recognition by students and educators that an international experience is important to students' future careers," according to IIE.

"The increases reported in IIE's Open Doors 2007 reflect a growing interest in non-traditional destinations -- students going to Asia (up 26%), Latin America (up 14%), Africa (up 19%) and the Middle East (up 31%) -- and a wider range of study abroad opportunities in addition to the extremely valuable semester and academic year programs."

A trend also has developed wherein an increasing number of students are seeking study abroad programs that offer redeeming benefits such as enhanced employability, intercultural immersion, and a greater knowledge of the global economy.

Elizabeth Farrell captured this trend in a recent article from the Chronicle of Higher Education: "Traditionally, foreign study has evoked images of sightseeing and socializing, with a few randomly chosen courses thrown in. Now administrators and study-abroad directors want students to take academically rigorous classes, improve their foreign-language fluency, gain cultural literacy, and return home with a better understanding of the global economy."

Dr. Joseph Olander, a former university president both in the U.S. and China, and currently president of one of the new breed of multi-cultural study abroad programs, The Scholar Ship, has long endorsed an intercultural approach to study abroad without which, he says, "...today's students will be woefully unprepared to meet the challenges of a flatter world." The Scholar Ship is the first oceangoing semester abroad program designed specifically for an international student body and faculty.

More than 200 university students from 35 countries departed Athens in September aboard a 201-meter ship en route to four continents over 16 weeks (a veritable semester at sea). Seven universities, including University of California, Berkeley and Fudan University in Shanghai have designed The Scholar Ship's onboard and field-study curricula.

"The time is ripe to change the semester abroad programs from travelogues to programs that offer redeeming and life-long benefits," noted Susan Nickens, VP for Academic Affairs, The Scholar Ship. "This is our goal and judging from our inaugural class of students, it is a welcomed one indeed."

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