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Appalachian 4th among the top 40 master’s degree granting institutions for study abroad

BOONE—The growing interest of students participating in study abroad at Appalachian State University has once again resulted in recognition by 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.

View larger imageView larger imagePast study abroad opportunities at Appalachian State University have included a Walker College of Business trip to Malawi, focusing on sustainability and non-profit management (top photo), and Poland, where students in the Department of Communication learned about international communication (bottom photo). (Photos submitted)

Destinations included Europe, Central America/Caribbean, South America, Asia and 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 that year. This represented a 22 percent participation rate at Appalachian, a much higher rate than the national rate of 13.8 percent.

“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 and faculty, but also many others on campus.”

During the last five academic years, the number of Appalachian students selecting to study abroad for academic credit has been growing 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.

“The growth in education abroad can be attributed to many factors,” Lutabingwa explained. “There is an increased interest among the students and faculty to go abroad. Obviously, the efforts we have made in talking with students and parents during Open Houses about study abroad opportunities is paying off. Also, the Office of Admissions includes a good portion of their presentation to prospective students and their parents talking about opportunities to study abroad in various programs.”

Lutabingwa also pointed to efforts his staff members are involved in to publicize education abroad opportunities and the increased interest of faculty to offer more faculty-led programs.

Some scholarship support is also offered to make the studying abroad experience more affordable to students.

“We also have experienced a phenomenal growth in the number of pre-service teachers who are choosing to do a portion of their student teaching abroad,” Lutabingwa said. “Our problem right now is to have enough placements at current sites abroad.”

Forty-five education majors have been selected to participate in the Reich College of Education’s International Student Teaching Program for the spring 2015 semester. The students will spend two-thirds of the student teaching semester in a North Carolina school and one-third in an international school in the countries of Costa Rica, England, Germany, Ireland, Scotland or South Africa.

“In some departments and programs, studying abroad has become an expectation and a graduation requirement,” Lutabingwa said. “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.”