January 27, 2016--For the third consecutive year, Western Kentucky University climbed in the Institute for International Education's (IIE) U.S. study abroad rankings, released in the November 2015 Open Doors Report.
WKU is ranked 19th in the nation among master's institutions for the total number of study abroad students and is the only public institution in Kentucky to appear in the study abroad rankings.
“WKU's national ranking in study abroad is a testament to its commitment to prioritizing education abroad through developing strategic partnerships and investing in faculty and student scholarships,” said Dr. Craig T. Cobane, Chief International Officer for Global Learning.
The most recent IIE study abroad rankings are based on statistics for the 2013-2014 academic year, when a record total of 558 WKU students (not including international and non-degree students) participated in study abroad programs. The growth for that year can be attributed to a number of variables, including the success of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences' international student teaching program. A record high of 88 education majors completed a month-long student teaching experience abroad in 2013-2014 as part of their student teaching semester, equipping them with intercultural skills to enable them to work more effectively with diverse students. Alumni of this program boast high job placement rates for teaching jobs after graduation.
An additional factor in WKU's ranking is the growing popularity of the Harlaxton College semester program in Grantham, England. Through a special partnership with the University of Evansville, WKU students with a 3.2 GPA can study at Harlaxton College for an affordable cost. A total of 55 WKU students studied at Harlaxton College in 2013-2014, and that that number has increased to 62 students for the current 2015-2016 academic year.
Faculty-led study abroad programs (FLSAs) continue to be a popular option for WKU students; 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 smorgasbord of program options to fit their curricular needs. Close partners include the Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS) and the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CCSA), consortia organizations housed on WKU’s campus. Several WKU faculty members teach on KIIS and CCSA programs every year. WKU also enjoys a close relationship with the Semester at Sea program, administered by the Institute for Shipboard Education.
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. Over $150,000 is awarded through the World Topper Scholarship annually, and an additional $50,000 through the Diversity Abroad Grant, a scholarship that is open to underrepresented students with high financial need. Both of these awards are offered through the Office of Study Abroad and Global Learning (SAGL), with financial support for the Diversity Abroad Grant coming from the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, the WKU Sisterhood, and the Office of International Programs. “We are strongly committed to expanding access to education abroad opportunities and getting more WKU students abroad in the coming years,” said Katherine Hale, Interim Assistant Director of SAGL.
The Student Government Association, the Honors College, Gordon Ford College of Business and the Department of Modern Languages also offer similar 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 awards 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 bi-annual spring Study Abroad Fair takes place February 2nd, 2016 in the Downing Student Union and is an opportunity for students to obtain information related to WKU-affiliated study abroad programs and scholarships.
SAGL and the Office of International Programs plan to release their 2014-2015 Annual Report around the start of the spring 2016 to update the campus community on recent international education trends at WKU.
Contact: Katherine Hale, Study Abroad & Global Learning, 270-745-5334